Writing and planning a best man speech format is a lot m,ore straightforward than you think

Best Man Speech Formats

Usually one of the biggest problems with writing a best man speech is that you’ve got all the information but don’t have a clue how to stitch it all together. Working out how to use all the stories, character traits, funny observations and anything else you’ve compiled, takes a lot of thinking about because you need this to be something that people want to listen to and will entertain them. So it’s either a case of heavily editing what you’ve got or stretching it to fit the allotted time, so the best man speech format you might think, is critical.

The trick to sketching out a best man speech format is to look at it in a completely new way – forget everything you know, or think you know about wedding speeches. A great best man speech is neither an exercise in public humiliation, or a real time waltz through several stories that required being there in order for them to work. This is by far and away where most best men go catastrophically wrong. The usual format is to string together 3 stories which aren’t particularly funny, and sandwich them between a hackneyed introduction and a cliched ending…and nothing could be more boring or difficult to land. Stories require a killer punchline – which most don’t have – and when the first one doesn’t work, getting through the remaining two could prove to be the longest 7 minutes of your life. So the most important thing when planning the format is to forget stories and instead use what they contain in a much more effective and condensed way.

Instead view the whole speech as a story and take the audience from a well thought out beginning to a meaningful and powerful ending. This might seem counterintuitive to begin with but when deciding how to write a speech the only people you need to have in mind are your audience: what will they want to hear? How will they want to be entertained? What is their comedy threshold? etc etc. And the bottom line is the guests just want to laugh. They’ve sat through the emotional and very often completely inexplicable father of the bride speech, they’ve endured a 45 minute groom speech, their new shoes are now really hurting, their ties feel like tourniquets and they just want to start enjoying themselves, and that’s where you step in. Take them on one large comedic look at the groom, having fun with him, not at him, and celebrate his frailties and shortcomings in the most inclusive and entertaining way.



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So when I’m drawing up the format I first look at what the groom was like when he was younger, – be it teenager, toddler or just starting work, and then try to map out his journey from that point to the current day groom. This gives you the basis of the one big story approach and from this you can plug all the holes in that story with nuggets from anecdotes, well crafted witty observations, or if you’re really struggling, a little bit of fantasy. Yes, that’s right, fantasy. You’re there to make the guests laugh, sure you’re going to say some lovely things about towards the end of the speech but if putting in some little falsehoods like he wanted to be a spaceman and applied to the Didcot Space Center, only to discover there wasn’t one…tickles guests, then just do it.

So the best format is to decide at which point you’re going to pick up the groom’s life and then trace a pathway to the time when he met his lovely wife. The key to making all this stick together is daft comedy, don’t rely on internet jokes, or grubby one liners, you need t make everyone laugh and so that means coming up with funny things in and around the groom’s character. Explain how he went from being that slightly chubby, ginger kid with a thing about Thomas The Tank Engine to the urbane, metropolitan sophisticate who enjoys pilates. What was in his character as a 5 year old, that catapulted him to where he now finds himself? This should also allow you to bring in all those stories in condensed form, so instead of recounting how he walked around with a traffic cone on his head, simply drop it in to the speech as: ‘he planned to become the first international astronaut who’d been cautioned by police for wearing a traffic cone in the small hours of Saturday evening’. That way you’re stripping out the dull detail of the story but still letting everyone know what he did in a much more succinct and funnier way.

So, at the beginning introduce yourself, it will settle you down and allow you to build a rapport with the guests. Then set the scene at your starting point and begin. With this method, you’re not restricted to viewing the best man speech as having a rigid format, in fact you’re doing your very best to get away from that. This will allow you to be much more creative and give you huge scope to paper of cracks such as lack of material or dodgy parts of his life you’d rather leave out. The only other thing to remember is forget all the marital advice, bridesmaids and talking about being the best man – that is all very dull and part of the old school format that we’re trying to get away from. Nothing is more pointless or conceited in a best man speech than the best man talking about himself when the subject is the groom. This usually stems form having nothing to say, but with my story format that shouldn’t be an issue.

Towards the end you should talk about the happy couple but don;t budget for going into too much detail about how they met, as the groom will probably have just covered that in his preceding speech – apart from Australia where he’ll follow you – and the last thing you want to do in tread on his toes, or even worse repeat parts of his speech.

So the first rule of best man speech format…is that there is no best man speech format. Treat it as one big story, and an open canvas will present itself and all you have to do is fill in the blanks whilst making them as funny as possible. Stick to around 1300 words and this will give you a talking time of around 7-8 minutes which will help you ensure complete victory on the day.


Writing that Last Minute Speech

Last Minute Speech

Fear, relief, panic….

There’s a pattern when it comes to being appointed a best man and it’s very similar to the experience of making a parachute jump: fear, relief, panic. Usually your friend will give you the good news about a year in advance and for at least 5 minutes you’ll be struck with the mind bending fear that this time next year you’ll be attempting to make people laugh whilst shaking like a leaf. This very soon gives way to the comforting relief that there are 12 months to go before your ritual humiliation and then subsequently gut wrenching panic as you realize a year has slipped past, it’s next week and you’ve nothing written. And so you find yourself getting to grips with the last minute speech.

Not alone

Leaving it until the last minute is not exceptional – there are hundreds of guys out there who have done exactly the same thing, so let that be your first thought: you are not alone. Secondly, there is always time. My record so far this summer for a last minute speech is a call on a Thursday for a groom’s speech on the Saturday. That was tight and a little strange as it’s usually never the groom leaving late, but we managed it no problem. So no matter how last minute you think it is, there is always enough time to come up with something, it’s just the way you’re going to deliver it that will need some thinking about.


Most of the best men I’m writing for throughout the summer tend to be from the last minute speech brigade and that usually means a week to go. The familiar story is that they thought it would be easier to write and having only tried to pen something two weeks out, they’re now running out of time to get something down. The key is not to panic, as nothing will destroy a speech more than the person giving it wracked with nerves. If you’ve got less than 10 days to go keep everything really simple; don’t try to over engineer a clever speech, don’t throw in jokes that really need more thought to make them work and don’t be tempted to write more than necessary in order to somehow make up for your lack of effort to date. The only two things that really make a speech work are content and delivery. So for a last minute speech do not be tempted to execute anything other than a good 1200 words of fun and sentiment. Forget powerpoint, forget slides and films or any of that nonsensical gubbins that turn a speech into an ordeal. In my opinion no speeches need them and least of all a last minute one.

 Stand and deliver

And then we come to a delivery. If you’re getting a speech writer to prepare it, or you’re doing it yourself, by the time it’s ready you’ve probably got about 4 days to go through it. Do not attempt to memorise it. You should keep reading it through until the speech separates itself into blocks in your mind, and then use prompt cards to recall those blocks. You should at least be aiming to know the speech well enough that you’ll have the confidence to look up an deliver at least every third sentence whilst looking at the guests.   Nothing makes the heart beat faster than knowing you’ve left it really late to pull off the performance of a lifetime and nothing will make you feel more euphoric than doing precisely that.

A Best Man Speech Introduction is actually pretty straightforward to get right.

Best Man Speech Introduction

So, How to Write a Best Man Speech Introduction?

This is actually the most straightforward and easy part of the best man speech, but it’s also one where a lot of best men go wrong. All you have to do here is introduce yourself and say what an honour it is to be saying a few words about the groom. That’s it. Unfortunately many guys decide that this is the moment they need to step into their stand up routine and try hitting the guests from the off with a scripted joke or even worse a really blunt introduction to themselves. It never works. You are a close friend or brother of the groom, you are not a seasoned comedian and nobody is expecting you to be, so when you grab the microphone and go down the route of…”my name is Mike, and let me tell you about a funny story that happened to me on the way here…” you are simply wasting time, and taking the spotlight away from the real subject of the speech: the groom. Sure, you’re there to make people laugh but you can do that once they know who you are, and how you know the groom – it just gives both you and the audience some breathing space. After that have something funny to say about the groom not about you, or being the best man, or the bridesmaids. The other thing you must categorically not do is thank anyone, welcome anyone or God forbid declare what a lovely day everyone is having. Everybody has been thanked and welcomed one million times and your job is just to get on with the describing the life and times of the groom. The groom has just toasted the bridesmaids so you can leave them alone – under a strictly traditional format the best man is meant to respond on behalf of the bridesmaids, but nobody ever understands this and it makes about as much sense as eating garlic to keep vampires away. So, forget any bombastic, Saturday Night live intro and instead calmly introduce yourself and allow the guests to warm to you, then crank up the funny.

Standing up to the hecklers

Wedding speeches: hecklers



It’s a known fact that most grown men would rather wrestle a tiger in their underpants than stand up in front of a crowd of people and speak for five minutes. This is understandable as, apart from our own families, many go out of their way to avoid any form of spoken communication with anyone not in their ‘circle’. Whilst commuting we prefer to inspect our shoes or pretend to be asleep and in supermarket queues we stand there fixated on the contents of the trolley we’ve just filled. Now of course we have smartphones that can fill every single second of our waking hours. If somebody you don’t recognize looks like they might want to talk to you, just pop out the iPhone and check up on the weather in Jeddah.


For the time being, however, wedding speeches are going to require people to stand up and speak out loud. Chances are if you’re somewhere in your 20’s or 30’, you haven’t had to do this for many years and even then it was probably for some misdemeanor. And that’s maybe part of the problem: we associate public speaking with being in trouble. Standing up in class, standing up in court, standing up at a wedding reception; it’s all the same sort of thing.


Now you might be thinking that in order for it not to be a Route 1 pathway into therapy that every single detail of the speech must be taken care of. You’d be right. Sort of. There is no substitute for a killer speech with plenty of practice; some good lines, clever observations, a bit of mush and then you’re outta there. If the microphone is playing up, if most of the guests can’t see you because of that brick pillar or if you decided to speak whilst most of the guests are still stone cold sober. Then you’ve had it.


There is one banana skin that could be a real blessing in disguise: the wedding speech hecklers. You will always get a heckler at a wedding and usually it’s the ‘wedding clown’. This tends to be one of your uncles unleashed from his domestic routine, fuelled by complimentary booze and almost certainly wearing his wife’s hat half way through the meal. He feels the world has a right to know just how witty he can be and/or just what a knob he thinks you are. But the great thing about these people is, they’re great for a put down and if you can manage that, then whatever you have to say afterwards is going to be treated as gold.



Have some generic ammo in your pocket. Those that start heckling are likely to be older guests, but these will work nicely for anyone


Sorry, do you need help visiting the bathroom?

Oh, hello there **** how is the drink problem?

As I said at the beginning welcome to all those we love and care about. And you ***

Yeah, my mum never liked you. She was right.


…You get the idea. Make it confident and witty you’re not trying to destroy the person just have some fun with them, so do it with a smile on your face. When you land it your confidence will soar and you’ll practically waltz through the rest of the speech.


Quite simply they’re the magic dust to sprinkle on your performance. Expect them. Dispatch them. Revel in the glory.






two brothers who could one day make each other their best man

Best Man Brother Speech

How to Write a Speech for Your Brother

Yes he’s either spent years following you around, borrowing your things being annoying, or he’s been the younger kid that you used to get to do dangerous things to see how much he could hurt himself, and now the ultimate conclusion of that relationship is he’s made you Best Man. Most guys have mixed feelings about being the best man and usually the only thing that can give it a negative spin is the speech. I talk to many guys all over the world each week and I’ve never met one who was looking forward to the speech – the expectation for an entertaining, funny and engaging speech can be understandably daunting. The problem with writing one for your brother is that you may have lived in the same house, but not hung out together, or you’re so close that trying to work out what you’d like to say and make it funny can seem almost impossible. The upshot of these two scenarios is exactly the same: you don’t have anything to write about, but don’t worry there are ways around everything and your best weapon should be creativity.

Starting Point

The first thing to remember is that this is a celebratory, entertaining speech about your brother. It is not a CV is spoken form, it is not a list of accolades and accomplishments, and it’s not an application for him to join Mensa. The bottom line is that all you have to do for the most part is make people laugh in and around the subject of your brother; some will know him intimately and some will have never met him, so the comedy needs to be really accessible and easily digestible. The biggest hurdle facing all best men is that they simply don’t have anything to write about for a whole variety of reasons, so forget about what you can’t write about and start concentrating on what you can. Make a list of bullet points regarding your brother, these can be anything from his hair colour to his hobbies, include nicknames, his passions, what he doesn’t like and use that as a starting point. once you have that list you know what you’ve got to work with and can then work out how to piece it all together.

What to Avoid

At this point you’re probably thinking “I need some stories!”…but you’d be wrong. The biggest misconception about writing a best man speech is that it should just be a string of anecdotes recounting inglorious moments of the groom’s past, which in fact couldn’t be further from the truth. Landing a really good story relies on having a killer punchline and when telling it to a large audience really needs a seasoned raconteur to complete its delivery. In short: it’s bloody hard to land a story in a speech, and it’s where most best men fail. The problem only gets worse as the first story hasn’t worked and so your confidence evaporates and the audience’s confidence in you similarly disappears, and so the subsequent stories you’re about to tell don’t stand a chance.

So forget stories, yes that’s right – forget them. This should come as welcome news to those brothers that don’t have any stories or those awaiting delayed responses from friends promising to come up with the goods. You don’t need them. At the very most you can use some of the story in condensed form and just use it as punchline. So, for instance instead of telling us in real time the story of the groom going to the supermarket wearing underpants on his head, you can just refer to him as ‘the type of delusional young man, whose very public cry for help of wearing underpants on his head was completely at odds with his chess club membership”…or something like that, but you get the picture.

Piecing it Together

All really great best mans speeches should be a creative romp through the life of the groom. It doesn’t matter if you glue it together with fantasy here and there, what you’re really looking to achieve is not a collection of stories, but one big story, which is great for brothers because you’re in the unique position of being there right from the beginning. So the best idea is to take those list of bullet points and then find a way of weaving them all together into one big comedic observation.

What did he look like as a baby? How did he behave when he was little? And how can you compare that to the man he has become? Once you start to pick up threads like that you can work out how to travel from the young boy you grew up with to the present day groom, exploring whether he still has those flaws and passions, and exploiting it all for comic effect. What you have to do here is let your imagination run wild, don’t be constrained by the facts – you’re not looking to paste in Googled jokes but if need to make up a few things in order for a conceit to work, then go for it. People just want you to make them laugh, so it really doesn’t matter if he never wanted to be Prime Minister or a spaceman, if pretending that he did makes it easier to have some fun with the fact he’s ginger or likes Boyzone, then you simply have to do it.

By writing it this way you’re avoiding the worse possible scenario which is trying to get stories from friends of his in order to bolster your arsenal of literary weaponry. By all means use nuggets of what they’ve sent you – it usually takes ages to arrive and is invariably sketchy at best – but by making it one big story you’re not going through the painful and tricky process of recounting other people’s stories which is always a hiding to nothing.

A new sister in law

Another thing to remember is that you’re not simply saying how lovely his brand new wife is, you’ve just gained a new member of the family and a brand new sister in law, so that needs to be fully recognised in your speech. It doesn’t matter if you really don’t know her, or aren’t that keen on her, you need to extend a warm and loving welcome on behalf of your family, and let her know how wonderful she looks and how lucky you all are to have her. However, you don’t need to go into detail about her family and her parents etc – the groom will have just spoken about them and almost certainly toasted them, so avoid repetition.


I usually only reserve some time in the brother’s best man speech for parents if there has been a bereavement, and only then if the groom has asked you make a reference. The focus of the day is the bride and all spotlights should be fully trained on her, so if the groom’s speech makes reference to a deceased parent and a toast, then best man should avoid, as it will begin to shift the focus away form the happy couple and the celebratory day that it’s meant to be. Apart from that scenario there isn’t any need to talk about your parents in the speech as the groom should have thanked them in his speech, so avoid going over old ground. If you are going to say some words about an absent parent do it towards the start of the speech, keep it light and try to find some humour in the subsequent paragraphs.


If your brother has children from this relationship, a former relationship or is gaining step children, then don’t forget to mention them in the speech and say what a great dad he is as well, and lovely kids they are…even if you don’t mean it!


Best Man Speech Clinic

Nothing beats a really great speech, and of course practicing it is key to really doing it justice on the day, but how can you be sure you’ve got the performance spot on? Most guys will line up family, friends and even pets, on whom they can inflict the fruits of their creative labour. There is, however, a huge problem with this approach and that’s mainly if you appoint somebody as a critic, they usually revel in the role and start pulling the speech apart for the sake of it. Perfectly great lines and conceits are cut because somebody’s partner didn’t like it, or hadn’t heard of Guantanamo Bay.

But what if there was a service whereby you could rock up, practice your speech in front of similarly nervous Best Men, have a professional speech writer guide you on performance and content tweaks, and then go home safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to share it with anyone else until the big day? Well, here it is: The Best Man Speech Clinic.

Every Monday evening in a place they call London Bridge, for two whole hours you can hone your delivery and fine tune your speech with my expertise and share your hopes and fears with other guys in exactly the same situation as you. All it costs is £45, and for that you get a selection of classically flavoured crisps and a couple of beers, which you can either enjoy gently through the session or nail them all in one for a huge but short lived confidence boost.

Just complete the form below quoting Best Man Speech Clinic and we’ll book you in and give you the details.

Come along and make your speech the best it can be. Whichever way you look at it: it’s going to be interesting!