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?