Speech Writer

Hiring A Speech Writer

Who is Hiring A Speech Writer?

Hiring a speech writer is not a new phenomenon but the people who are getting in touch with us are changing almost yearly. You see, there was a time way back when hiring a speech writer was just for the the connected and loaded few who could afford to have their corporate and/or political speeches written for them. However, the internet has punted things forward and now the ability to have somebody else write that all important speech for you is not only at your finger tips, it’s also much more affordable, too. Over the years it’s overcome the  perceived issue of finding somebody else to do what some may see as your job, and now it’s seen as a natural extension of our increasingly tailor made world.

 

Stigma of old

It’s interesting from the feedback I receive from clients to see just who’s hiring a speech writer and why they’re doing it. Most of the people I write for are extremely time poor and simply don’t have the space in their lives to devote to researching and writing a speech. For the others it’s just a case of this being so far removed from what they’d normally do in life that they don’t know where to begin. Both groups did have one common feature but it’s something that has very quickly become a thing of the past, and that’s the stigma factor. Years ago any clients used to be vehemently protective of the fact that they’d got somebody else to write for them, as if it were something to be almost embarrassed about. But that’s changed rapidly.

What was once considered a taboo is now seen as a reasonable and sensible thing to do. Recently I was contacted by a tree surgeon who spends his entire working life operating chainsaws in the middle of rural Norfolk. Nothing he has done or experienced up until this point has prepared him to write and deliver a speech, at the same time I have two chainsaws at home neither of which I have the first clue how to operate safely. That’s why I decided to hire a tree surgeon and that’s why a tree surgeon has decided to hire me. It just makes sense and that’s the way more and more people are looking at it. It’s not about dereliction of duty it’s about sticking to what you’re good at.

What to look for in speech writer

There are quite a few of us out there and as with all industries there are good and the not so good but in my view there are some basic features that you should think about. Firstly if anyone or any organisation is offering to write a completely bespoke speech for you with a fee that’s suspiciously cheap then I’d avoid at all costs. Writing a completely unique speech takes a lot of time and effort, which can amount to quite a lot of man-hours and if somebody is saying they can offer that for around the price of a good night out, then something doesn’t stack up. Speedy speech writing can only rely on templates and cliched jokes and you can quite comfortably find those yourself.

Also it’s absolutely crucial if you’re thinking about hiring a speech writer to chat to the person who’s going to be writing it for you so that they can fully appreciate who you are and what you’re about. If that facility isn’t on offer then you should probably think again. However, if you do get to chat to the speech writer then ask them to fully commit to a timescale and method of working, but more importantly see if you get on. If you don’t click with that person on the phone the chances are that using them as a speech writer isn’t going to work out either. If you need the speech on a quick turnaround or have any other specific requirements, also make sure those are made clear in an email as well, because if things don’t work out at least you can show that you made your position clear from the outset.

Tweaking the speech

Nearly every speech will need tweaking in some way, even if it’s just to give it a more personal spin – no matter how talented the writer, you’ll always be the best judge of exactly what’s going to work for you. Again check with the writer what the fee includes; some writers have a limit of two edits to any speech they write, whilst I always promise to keep on editing for the initial fee until you’re completely satisfied. Make sure you’re clear about what’s on offer and how much extra work is going to cost if it’s required.

Enjoy

The whole point of hiring a speech writer is so that the weight of responsibility is reduced leaving you simply with the task of delivering it. so just as you would enjoy wearing that bespoke suit, revel in the fact that somebody has created a perfect speech for you, rehearse it and enjoy every moment of it.

 

 

A groom holding a bouquet and looking as though he's about to practice his groom speech

How To Deliver A Groom’s Speech

The Big Moment Arrives…

 

The wedding ceremony is out of the way, the photographs have been taken and all that stands between you and two weeks on a beach is the most important speech you’ll ever make in your life. For the Groom it is the one major task of the whole event, get it right and it will be an experience that stays with you forever. Get it wrong and it will also have the same affect. Here are my top ten tips to getting it right.

 

  1. Rehearsal – you’re never going to pull it off unless you’re confident with what you’re saying and that’s not going to happen unless you’ve been through it enough to get to know the flow and the content. It might sound obvious but as a groom speech writer I speak to an awful lot of Grooms who keep putting it off until the last moment. And avoid doing it in front of friends or relatives, they only tend to hinder the process with unqualified thoughts. Only you will know what really works for you and what you want to say.

 

  1. Print out – Rehearsing is one thing, doing it right is another and there’s one basic tip: print the speech out. If you simply read it to yourself from a smart phone, tablet or laptop, you’re never going to spot the mistakes or awkward phrases. Print it out and speak into the hairbrush.

 

 

  1. Microphone – always use one if it’s on offer. Nothing is going to grind the guests down quicker than not being able to hear the speeches. Everybody looks forward to them and they want to be able to hear everything. Wedding venues, whatever design they might be, usually have poor acoustics, so if there’s a way to amplify your voice, take it. If not you’ll have the attention of the table right under your nose and other guests visibly straining to hear whilst the rest talk amongst themselves. In my life before booming a groom speech writer I was a broadcaster and I know there’s nothing harder than trying to talk to a crowd without amplification. So avoid.

 

  1. Pace – a slow measured pace works wonders. You could pretty much read out the menu for the day and if it’s done with enough thought, calm and a steady delivery, you’ll have people in stitches/tears. You want everyone to get the jokes, you want everyone to hear the thanks, so remember to constantly reign yourself back in and keep it super relaxed.

 

 

  1. Alcohol – this is the same advice that I give to Best Men, a little is better than none and a lot is the worst idea ever. Abstaining from booze on the day until you’ve made your speech sounds highly laudable but it’s actually not that bright. Most Grooms will be gasping for liquid refreshment and giving it a miss until the speeches is just another prompt for trying to get things over as soon as possible. Have a couple of drinks in the hours running up to the speech and you’ll feel more relaxed and less inclined to attack the speech like a rhino.

 

  1. Shakey hands – even if you’re not feeling a bit nervous your hands are going to a bit more wobbly than usual with all that adrenaline pumping through your system. If you’ve got something to lean on like a lectern, steady yourself with one hand on it leaving the other hand to gesture – like Obama. If there’s nothing to help you out, mount your notes on a clipboard or something stiff that’s going to hide the nerves.

 

 

  1. Look up – this is vital and will only really work if you’ve practiced enough. If you’ve got a good idea in your head about what the next bit in the speech is, use the prompt card to set you off and then deliver the lines looking into the crowd. Even if you skimped on the rehearsal never go more than two lines without pausing and looking up and at the guests. A groom with his head buried in a bundle of notes is painfully dull.

 

  1. Water – one of the most debilitating effects of nervousness is having a dry mouth, and one of the most uncomfortable things to listen to is somebody…with a dry mouth. But having a glass of water here is no huge revelation. There is, however, one trick: make sure it’s a big heavy glass of water and not some little tumbler. You’re nervous and with shaky hands I’ve seen Grooms who can barely get it to their mouths without it looking like there’s some sort of earthquake. A nice big, heavy pint glass hidden away for a few well deserved sips is the perfect remedy to both problems.

 

 

  1. Use the crowd – they’re animated, on your side and want to digest everything you’re saying, so they are also the perfect barometer of assessing how things are going down and also good fun to engage off script with. If you can see tables of guests looking pained or talking amongst themselves then something – almost certainly the sound – isn’t working. Don’t plough on: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Stop, ensure that everyone can now hear and off you go again. Nothing winds up suitably refreshed middle aged wedding goers than straining to hear if they’ve been thanked or not.

 

  1. Mental game – Put yourself in the right frame of mind. It may be the biggest speech you’ll ever make but it’s also by far the easiest and you’ve got to get your head around that before start. Put it to yourself like this: you know what you’ve got to say, you know there are some belters in there and you’re looking forward to thanking people who mean something to you. That is a great position to be in. Enjoy it.

 

 

being a maid of honor

How to write a Maid of Honor Speech

Where to start?

The battle of the sexes has been a fraught and sometimes bloody conflict but happily after centuries of being held back, prevented and down trodden, women have the vote, are allowed to drive cars and follow a career. The Second World War was a huge turning point in proving to the masses that anything men could do they could do better and it’s a movement that’s been in full effect ever since – look at what a great job the Queen does, and she a woman. So, it seems a bit bonkers that even as recently as ten years ago women speaking at a wedding would have seemed a little too edgy. It was set in stone: Father of the bride, Groom, Best Man.

Nowadays the shackles have well and truly come off the wedding racket and you can quite comfortably have the mother of the bride singing a speech whilst in a kick line from a West End musical. And thank heaven for that, because the more variety we have and the less predictable it all is, the better. So where does a girl begin when it comes to the speech? Well, there are plenty of Maid of Honor Speech examples online and to be honest, they’re all pretty awful. You can do a lot better if you just give it some thought.

Sections

The best way to organise your speech is to break it up into sections and have a clear path through from the beginning to the end. Start at the beginning at the point you first met and use that experience no matter how young you were to think of some humorous observation on the bride’s character. It always works a treat.

Introduction

Don’t forget to introduce yourself and how you know the bride. There are plenty of Maid of Honor speech examples which completely miss this basic and fundamental rule. If nobody knows who you are, they’re not going to care as much. Plus there’s always something funny to say about the way in which you met if you think hard enough.

Comedy

This is where all wedding speakers feel the pressure and being a Maid of Honor is no different. The great thing about your situation is that nobody is expecting you to hit them hard with the funnies, whereas every Best Man is paralysed with fear due to the weight of expectation. You can simply slide in there and steal his thunder. The best way to go about comedy is to forget any Googled jokes or contrived gags. There’s no place for them in a wedding speech. Think about what the bride was like when she was younger and why that makes her career or lifestyle funny today. What is she obsessive about? What does she hate? What have been her highs and lows? Start thinking about those things early enough and you’ll find a funny way to weave your way through it. But remember: never be edgy. Weddings and edgy comedy don’t mix.

Timings

The biggest crime for any speech is to talk too long and Maid of Honor speeches are no different. In America these tend to be around the 3 minute mark with a hard stop due to specific timings, so you’ll have to think very carefully about the words you use and make them all count. British weddings tend to offer more scope but aim for 7 minutes as an absolute maximum.

The groom

No matter what you may think of him really, you’re going to have to reference the groom and you should usually leave that to near the end of the speech, this gives you plenty of time to talk about your friend and what she means to you. When it comes to the groom part be honest – if she’s happier now than ever before, then tell it like it is. If you think she’s making a massive mistake keep it general.

Boyfriends

This is a huge ‘no go’ area for any wedding speech and mentioning any former loves should be avoided at all costs. You can get away with talking about her dating days in general but if you want to remain on speaking terms with the bride after the event then dodge it, even if others are asking you to go for it. I recently had a Best Man who wanted to list his brother’s girlfriends by name…that would have been a game changer.

Anecdotes

There are plenty of Maid of Honor speech examples which completely miss the point that women have had lives up to the point of marriage too! You never want any speech to become an anecdote fest but a really good one succinctly told is great to have in there and then you can allude to parts of their character by subtle references to other stories that can remain untold.

The end

This is where you bring the speech together and finish on a crescendo. The key here is to be honest, thoughtful and not too gushy. It’s enough to defence the times when the bride has been there for you etc but there’s no time or need to go in to detail. Let her know that she’s a good and trusted friend and then you’re outta there.

Writing a Wedding Toast

Writing a Wedding Toast

A Wedding Toast?

There have always been quite a few subtle differences between us Brits and our American cousins in many walks of life, and writing a wedding toast is no exception. However, weddings in general are something that divide our two nations. For a start there’s what we actually call the speech and they call the toast, then our Groom is their Groomsman, American weddings will frequently be a black tie event and then we have the American tradition of the rehearsal dinner. For anyone not familiar with this, it’s a full on, no expense spared, banquet the night before the main event and at which you’ll have a mountain of food and a series of speakers. It’s finely tuned, orchestrated and about as ‘rehearsal’ as the Trooping of The Colour. In fact the entire wedding event in America is a testament to exceptional levels of planning, preparation and purchase power.

British weddings tend to be a lot of organising and gentle kerfuffle on the day, men in morning suits scurrying about with their shoelaces undone feeling the effects of the night before. American weddings are more like Operation Desert Storm without the shooting bits. So if you’re a plucky British subject that’s been asked to give a wedding toast over in the States, then read on…

Timings

So, that brings us to the key difference between the American and British weddings when it comes to the speeches: timings. Anyone that has been to enough British weddings, will certainly have become the victim of ‘the long speech’. This is usually the father of the bride or the Groom – rarely the best man as they’re pretty keen to get off stage, but whoever is the offender the net result is the same: rigid boredom so stifling that even with plenty of vin rouge on board, you’re still struggling to muster a giggle. Writing a Wedding Toast is a different ball game entirely because the first thing clients will tell me is how many minutes they’ve got on stage. This is never a guideline either, these are hard timings to fit into a rigid structure. So writing a wedding toast is an interesting exercise is short, punchy sentiment versus comedy. Try getting away with a 3 minute speech at a British wedding and wait for the flak from the wedding professionals at the bar afterwards.

Content

There’e a lot to be said for this approach though – nobody outstays their welcome at the microphone and nobody has to endure listening to the the flower arrangers being thanked. Any wedding speech nailed down to such a short time frame will need careful thinking about indeed because there’s simply no opportunity to waste words. However, when it comes to the content it’s almost exactly identical to the comparative speeches we have over in the UK and despite much debate as to who understands comedy better, it all works in exactly the same way. I’ve written wedding toasts for East Coast, West Coast and clients in the middle of the Plains and they all laugh at the same things we do, so never try writing a wedding toast thinking that you’re going to have to make it like an episode of Friends. There’s no need.

A rough Guide to writing a wedding toast

As a rough guide to writing a wedding toast, never waste time thanking anyone – it makes sense they were either paid or were happy to do it without recognition. Never become involved in anecdotes – there’s no time and American audiences tend to prefer humorous overviews rather than granular detail of questionable events, but then don’t we all? And don’t even dream about being edgy. I am firmly committed to pitching the humour in speeches right down the middle and that doesn’t make it any less funny.  Some British clients prefer to make things a little more risky but never for an American client – it’s just not what they’re about.

In fact thinking about it, we could learn a lot from the country which gave the world the gold standard in customer service. Their weddings are viewed as entertainment spectacles so they’re constantly thinking of the comfort of the guests, which when it comes to writing a wedding toast  means short, sharp, snappy speeches, with all the woolliness taken out. Just my cup of tea.

 

 

Wedding speech writer Adrian Simpson sat at a desk talking

Funny Business – Writing Comedy

Last year I received something truly horrific in my inbox. It wasn’t a threat to enlarge my penis, nor was it the Lagos Mafia asking if I wouldn’t mind a share of few million quid. No, it was much worse than that – it was a really shit speech. You might be thinking that there’s nothing too unusual about that in my business, after all I receive speeches from blokes all over the world every single week and at least some of them look like a cross between a ransom note and a memo from the IRA. However, I have the utmost respect for the guys who send me those speeches because they are not seasoned writers, they are not comedy thinkers and they are way out of their comfort zone. But they try their hardest and for that I love them.

The speech I received, however, was much worse than that. It was cripplingly unfunny, extremely poorly written and all had the finesse and poise of a Wehrmacht 88 Anti Aircraft gun. It was awful. But what made it so spine tinglingly shit? Well, that would be the fact that somebody had actually paid for it. Yep, it was written by a ‘professional wedding speech writer’ who had clearly knocked it out for cash before  re-injecting himself with floor cleaner and collapsing into a heap of mental waste where he thinks ‘funny’ is fake telegrams from Thai strip clubs.

I don’t know where to begin with how crap this was, and to think that somebody had actually paid money for it, really made my blood boil. The guy who had written it was clearly completely incapable of constructing genuinely funny conceits and one liners, and instead resorted to using the same old hackneyed rubbish that you can get for free on the internet. And the trouble is only a really funny best man speech will do, and so the guy who paid for it was going to experience the double whammy of standing up and delivering a speech that nobody laughs at whilst at the same time getting financially rinsed.

So, I got to thinking: how can you be a speech writer when you clearly know nothing and care little for being funny? I love what I do, I love trying to make people laugh and it’s something that every single day I try very hard to make work – because that’s what people pay me for and that’s what gives me a thrill. I’d like to think from my reviews that at least some of that genuine passion is working, but I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to see if I can take what I can do on to the stage. I’m going to enter a stand up comedy competition in a throw down to all UK based wedding speech writers to join me and see what we’re made of.

I have a feeling it may not last long, I have a feeling the other writers may not join me, but I once made Rhona Cameron laugh out loud, so that’s good enough for me. The worst thing is, another rival accidentally sent me one of their speeches last year which was so bad on the Circle Line of comedy it actually went all the way around and came back to Victoria station as funny…it was the Honky rap he’d inserted into a white middle class wedding with absolutely no regard for the demographic which instantly broke all of my ribs. Shit, but funny for all the wrong reasons.

Best man Speech microphone

How to deliver a Great Best Man Speech

How to deliver a great best man’s speech

 

It’s one of the things that most grown men dread thinking about: how to deliver a Best Man speech. They tend to love organising the stag weekend and being part of the ‘wedding mafia’ on the day but the pressure to communicate their thoughts in a funny, engaging or even coherent way, can floor even the most confident of men.

 

Here are my top ten tips of how to deliver a great Best Man’s speech.

 

  1. Rehearsal – it may seem obvious but I’ve been to a few weddings where the Best Man was still writing his speech on the day, and it never works out. One way to beat the butterflies in the stomach is to be supremely familiar with what you’ve got to say and exactly how you’re going to say it. After that it’s just a question of standing up and doing your thing.

 

  1. Editing – once you’ve written a speech and are happy with it, do not over analyze it. The golden rule is that if it made you laugh and did the trick first time round, then that’s exactly what will happen on the day. Do not make the mistake of presenting it to friends/family for their input, you’re simply diluting its impact and inviting yet another set of ideas and values to get in the way. Only you know what will work best for you.

 

 

  1. Alcohol – Many Best Men decide the only forward is to get the thing over and done with and then get stuck into the booze. This might sound like a reasonable strategy but it’s actually pretty counterproductive. Holding out for a drink is a major contributing factor to rushing through the speech, so in your mind you can start enjoying yourself. It also does little to settle the nerves. A good idea is to have a couple of gentle drinks in the run up to your speech, you’ll be a lot more relaxed and less prone to sprinting to the end.

 

  1. Microphone – always use a microphone. I read somewhere recently on a blog that they advised never using one, that’s easily the worst piece of public speaking advice I’ve ever seen. Wedding venues nowadays come in all shapes and sizes but with one thing in common: the acoustics are dreadful. A wedding where the guests can’t hear you will make for a long and tedious afternoon.

 

 

  1. Parrot fashion? – never attempt to learn a speech word for word from beginning to end, it won’t work. If you’re trying to recite all 1200 words it will only be a matter of time before the occasion gets to you and you’re floundering in a sea of thanks, jokes and sentiment. The best approach is to read the speech through as often as you can in the run up to the wedding. From this you can break it down mentally into blocks: intro, parents, first date etc. Before you know it, you’ll have the sequence of those blocks in your head and their content. All you’ll need is a few prompt cards for each and you’re away.

 

  1. Pace – as I’ve mentioned before Best Men are usually very keen to get to the end of their speech and nothing will make it a greater failure than careering through it. A slow, steady and thoughtful pace will allow all the jokes and observations to be perfectly clear, ensuring that you’ll get more laughs. This walking pace can also make even the most mundane fact sound funny. So, plenty of pauses, plenty of glances around and trundle on.

 

 

  1. Eye contact – don’t be afraid of looking up and at the guests, eye contact is key to delivering a good speech. It shows you’re confident, happy and in charge and brings everyone on to your side. If you’ve got your head buried in a sheath of A4 paper people are going to get pretty fed up fairly quickly. So look around after you’ve delivered a funny line, look at a guest you might have just referenced and enjoy the moment.

 

  1. Hecklers – you will ALWAYS get a heckler so when you’re thinking about how to deliver a best man’s speech think now about how you’re going to deal with them. Usually it’s the ‘over refreshed’ guests that like to indulge and it’s always in good humour. They are easy fodder for a few unscripted laughs so a neat but warm put down is a great idea.

 

 

  1. Paper shake – it’s not just the nervous guys that this affects it’s also the super confident ones as well, with so much adrenaline coursing through your body the speech papers can look like you’re trying to fan a fire. If you haven’t got a lectern etc. to rest on get a clipboard or something stiff to mount them on. If the guests can see your hands shaking it will soon become the only thing they’re looking at.

10. Frame of mind – this is really important: get yourself into the mindset that this is something you’re going to enjoy. You know you’ve got some killer lines, you know people are going to laugh and you’re amongst a crowd who want you to succeed. I’ve lost count of the number of Best Men who just wished they could go and do it all again because they actually enjoyed themselves. If you’re aware of this beforehand, then you’re ahead of the game.

How to make your best man speech great

How to Write a Great Best Man’s Speech

How to write a great Best Man’s speech

 

For many men the idea of giving a Best Man’s speech sends them into a cold sweat; the fear of not being engaging enough, funny enough or downright interesting enough, renders the whole situation as one big nightmare. On top of that you’ve got to find an appropriate way of complimenting your close friend and his bride without it sounding all a bit weird. Little wonder so many men dread the experience.

 

It is, however, very easy to get right and it all hinges on the quality of what you’re saying. There’s no replacement for a well written and adequately rehearsed speech. Once that’s in the bag you’ll be presenting it to the easiest crowd you’ll ever come across: usually a little merry, always up for fun and in a blissfully happy mood. Here are my tips on how to write a great Best Man’s speech.

 

  1. Length – the cardinal sin here is to talk for too long. Everybody is eagerly expecting your take on the groom and his life to date but nobody loves him that much they want to hear a full twenty minutes on the subject. A good length is about 7 minutes or around 1200 words. Any less than this and the guests will be wondering why he gave you the gig.

 

  1. Jokes – in my experience there is no place for constructed jokes in a wedding speech. No matter how dull you think his life may have been there will always be a funny way of painting the picture, sometimes it just takes a bit of thinking about. Delivering a joke you found on the internet will almost certainly corrupt the delivery and unless you’re a part time stand up comedian saying it with conviction is about as tricky as it gets.

 

 

  1. Introduction – many Best Men forget that unless they’ve managed to make a spectacle of themselves at the church, quite a few of the guests won’t know who you are, or how you know the Groom. So, at the start of the speech give a brief outline of who you are and how you know him.

 

  1. Order -start at the beginning. It may sound obvious but I’ve heard a lot of Best Man speeches where the speaker delivers a complete jumble of anecdotes from various points in the Groom’s life. A speech that’s easy to follow will have the crowd on your side and waiting for the next nugget. Confuse them and you’ll be wondering why there is a sea of expressionless faces in front of you.

 

 

  1. Swearing – there is never, ever any place for profanity in any wedding speech. No matter how salty you think the guests’ language might be, no matter how progressive their sense of humour appears, swearing will never work. Wedding crowds are always an eclectic mix and you’ve got to pitch it so that the Grandparents and kids won’t be offended. Look at this way: there are plenty of stand ups who never swear and they make money from being funny.

 

  1. Anecdotes – don’t go mad. One or two anecdotes are fine, they help jog things along and give an insight into who the Groom really is but it shouldn’t be an anecdote-fest. Endless tales of escapades can wear thin pretty quickly, so mix one or two up with observational comments on his career, dating and passions in life.

 

  1. Humour – start gently and then work into a crescendo. Nobody is expecting you to be the next Peter Kaye but everyone has the capacity to be funny if they really try, and this is why if you’re not used to comedy writing, you’ll need time to think about things. You’ll always have a really funny bit to say so leave that to just before the end, as this is the part most guests will remember. In the introduction you can have a gentle snipe at how or where you met and then build a few more of those as you go along. As with many speeches, the humour is most frequently found in the delivery.

 

 

  1. Read aloud – writing words to be read and words to be spoken are very different things, so make sure you get it right. Always print out a copy of your speech and read it out loud – any word repetition or jarring phrases will instantly fall out and then you can go back and correct. If you read from the screen you will always miss things.

 

  1. Your own voice – never set out to write a speech in the style of anyone but yourself. If you’ve cut and pasted things from the internet they’re going to stick out, so think of the way you’d say things. Remember: he’s asked you to give the speech, not Google.

 

10. The end – this is the bit when the joking stops and you say something fittingly moving about the guy who’s just got married. There’s one thing that’s key: be honest. Think of a time when he’s really helped you out or been there for you and think what qualities does that mean he has? Why do you have him as a friend? Keep it to the point and not too slushy, and you’re on to a winner. For more hints and tips then why not visit the Best Man Speech Structure page?

Writing Best Man Speech example

Best Man Speech Outline

Many people have issues with writing the Best Man Speech, and for good reason – to do it well takes, skill, practice and a good helping of wit. It’s little wonder that it can prove a real headache for those ‘lucky’ enough to be made best man. As I’ve said many times in posts, and pages on this site, your best friend is time, and now we find ourselves at the beginning of the year you’ll probably have at least 4 months before the fear and panic of the final countdown to D-Day. So, with that in mind, and if you’re planning on writing it yourself, you’re firstly considering the initial outline of the speech.

The problem with thinking of a best man speech outline is that you need to understand what kind of speech you want form the very beginning. If you’re thinning about going down the tried and tested ‘a couple of stories, a bit about the bride and marriage advice’ route, then you really don’t have to think about the speech until the night before, because no matter who much thought you put into that little lot, it will be an unmitigated failure.

A really great Best Man Speech needs to be considered as a whole and not as series of component parts. When I’m devising a plan for a speech, and all my speeches are created uniquely, I begin to think about how to bring all the elements of who this guy is and what he’s about into one central theme, and then build the speech around that. You need to have a beginning and an end, but you shouldn’t have any other boxes to tick. At the same time I want to know a little about the groom, but not so much I could write a book about him. So, any traits or facts need to be conveyed in the most succinct and funny way possible. And that’s the key to a successful Best Man Speech: succinct funniness.

So, stop thinking of the speech as a well trodden pathway form beginning to end, instead when you’re thinking about the best man speech outline, simply think about the outline of the groom and use that as your guide. Once you know what you want to highlight, then weave a pathway through his characteristics and stories, using a minimalistic approach. A quick and easy way to map out a structure is to look for some well prepared templates, but be warned: some are better than others.

 

This is an opportunity to have fun and entertain, it’s not a sales pitch, so forget the best man speech outline, and just tell a bloody good story.

 

Choosing your Best man

Choosing Your Best Man

Your Oldest Bestest Friend as Best Man? Maybe Not.

Most people would suspect that when it comes to choosing your best man, the groom goes for his long time oldest best friend, and in a lot of cases this is perfectly true. However, as somebody who speaks to dozens of best men every week this strategy can leave the best man with a real headache and in need of a speech writer.

 

Why it doesn’t work…

As the groom thinks hard about who to ask his mind will of course go back to the beginning and therein lies a sentimental temptation. The memories of you both together in shorts putting worms in jars, burn brightly and by virtue having been in his life the longest you are therefore best laced to comment. The problem with this is that very few people remain welded together from the age of 7 upwards. You’ll go to different, schools, colleges, work and live in different places. So, you’re an expert on his life up to the age of 16 and then after that it’s a bit of a blank. He’ll have great friends from more recent formative times, where alcohol, foreign travel and dating make for far more engaging stories.

 

Every day I’m contacted by guys who say that apart from maybe one anecdote at school they really don’t know the first thing about the groom at all. I recently wrote a speech for a client living in the Middle East who hadn’t spent any time with his friend since they were about 18 and here he was making the speech at the age of 34. The talent of the speech writer is making what facts you have come alive without the temptation to include hackneyed jokes or clichés. There are always ways to make things funny but they just need thinking about and if you haven’t seen the guy for 16 years then you’re going to need to be pretty creative.

 

Of course the other problem is that there are going to be other more recent friends there who will have great stories and observations, and will be sat back wondering why you haven’t mentioned about his holiday to Botswana 3 years ago. The Best Man always feels the pressure but under these circumstances the guys I work with really struggle and it’s not surprising, it takes all my experience as a speech writer to be able to crack it. I’ve had examples of speeches that clients have sent me who are in this position and they are desperately bereft of any structure, wit or indeed content, and quite frankly my sympathy is with the best man.

 Choosing your Best Man

So when you’re thinking about choosing your Best Man, you’ve really got to be thinking along hard practical lines and not err on the side of sentiment. Who is going to have the best chance of making a really great speech? That person is almost certainly somebody from the last 10 years of your life, somebody you’ve lived with, holidayed with and shared a few hard times. And with that in mind it’s very unlikely to be the boy you collected conkers with 25 years ago.

 

 

 

 

A Groom stand with microphone in hand and talks about what the bridesmaids mean to them both

What Makes Great Speeches?

 

What Makes a Great Speech?…That’s Easy

I read somewhere on another speechwriter’s website that the two main elements of a great speech are content and delivery. This is about as helpful and profound as saying the two main things in a cheese sandwich are cheese and indeed bread, there’s not a lot else to get excited about. If you’ve got great content and you know how to deliver it then clearly you’re on to a winner, the debate should really be how do you deliver it and what makes the content great?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s one thing that unites all great speeches, there’s one element of the content no matter if it’s a eulogy, best man speech,  election speech or anniversary speech that makes them all great, and that’s humour. Any speech in any situation is always much the poorer for not having some humour in it, and the absence of it is purely lack of imagination. Of course it depends on exactly what type of speech you’re delivering to gauge the amount and type of humour involved but I cannot think of a single occasion where it’s inappropriate.

It all boils down to the fact that if you’re at a wedding or a conference or at a funeral, there are people there to engage and entertain and nobody has come up with a better way to do that than humour. Of course, comedy doesn’t come easily to everyone but any decent speechwriter should also be a serious talent when it comes to finding the genuine humour, if they can’t do that then they really should be doing something else. And by humour I mean things that really make you laugh because they’re clever, sharp, well observed or just downright daft. Putting something contrived and unrelated such as a cut and paste joke is not only pointless it’s very counterproductive too as it corrupts the flow and jars with the rest of the speech.

If you’ve got a speech where either you or the speech writer hasn’t managed to make anything genuinely funny from the material available then it’s time to rethink: it’s time for you to rethink your choice of speechwriter and it’s time for them to rethink their choice of career.

It’s quite simple forget everything else: well judged and cleverly crafted humour makes a great speech every single time, and if you’d like more hints and tips on the comedy side of things then why not visit the Best Man Speech Jokes page?