Your brother / best friend / [insert strong male relationship here] is getting married. Congratulations! You’re already counting down the days until the big day. It’s going to be one for the history books. He gets to ceremonially mark his love for his partner, whereas you get access to an open bar, the potential ability to dance with randos at the party… Wait, what’s that? You’re already sweating that you have to give the best man speech and the wedding isn’t until October 2019? Okay, take a deep breath and try to relax yourself. Giving the best man speech is actually a great privilege. But that doesn’t mean it’s fool proof. So let’s take a moment to discuss how to not mess this up.
I can tell, you’re already clenching your jaw. First and foremost, don’t freak out too much. Remember, the wedding isn’t about you at all, you’re merely adding a few words of support to christen their nuptials. Even if you give the worst best man speech of all time, it’s likely that no one at the wedding will even remember your face six months from now. What? This isn’t helping you? Okay, let’s get serious. Just as long as you don’t eat a piece of the wedding cake before the bride like this guy did, you’re already ahead of the game.
Since you’re usually giving the speech before the bar is opened and champagne is poured, it’s best to keep things simple and concise, short and sweet. Don’t let your speech stray longer than three minutes, five if you’re telling jokes and getting big laughs. At the end of the day, what do the people at the wedding just want to hear you say? “I love my brother, I’m so happy for him, I wish them lots of success, blah blah blah. Everyone enjoy the booze and try to avoid Uncle Frank because he’s been sipping from his flask since 11am.” A three minute speech is a little shorter than one page single spaced. So if you’re going to type it out (not a bad idea since your handwriting might be hard to read when the pressure is on and bright lights are shining in your face), ballpark anything under one page.
What matters most about public speaking is that you get on stage with confidence. Sure, most people don’t like speaking in public. You’re not alone in having stage fright. In fact, for most people it’s their least favorite thing to do. But get over the fact that you think your voice sounds weird in the sound system and simply ignore that everyone’s eyes will be fixated on you. All that matters is you deliver your words with confidence and charisma. To be honest, try to give a speech that features the same steely, hard nosed confidence as this guy.
As for content, keep it light and simple. Don’t get into a heavy story with a philosophical pay off at the end. Tell an anecdote from childhood, preferably one with a funny ending. Talk about the bond you feel with your brother. Talk about the time this happened:
Now, this might seem like it should go without saying, but you’d be surprised. Here’s a list of topics you should avoid talking about: your parents divorce, your brother’s ex-girlfriends, how smart or successful you are (that’s right, leave your bragging out of this!), anything even remotely disparaging of the bride. Boy, is that a big one.
Consider that the cardinal rule of weddings. The bride only gets washed with praise and affection.
No jokes, no nothing! Even if you don’t have the closest relationship with her. Heck, even if you don’t think they should be getting married in the first place! Just hold your tongue and bring it up next Thanksgiving. Trust me, there are too many knives nearby for you to survive a faux pas like that.
As for the jokes, I largely encourage people to let the comedians handle the jokes. Just because you’re handed a microphone doesn’t automatically mean your jokes will go over well. Actually, let’s take a moment to think through the last five or ten times you tried to tell a joke to your friends or family. How did that experience go? No, not for you, for them! We know you laughed at your jokes, that’s why you told them. But what matters is, did they laugh! We can treat this like a choose your own adventure novel. Did they laugh at your joke? If yes, was it your joke or a joke from a chain email sent by your Aunt Becky? If it’s an Aunt Becky original, then I’m not convinced you should be writing your own jokes and telling them to a wedding party. Now, if the joke was yours, then consider that a green light. Meanwhile, if the joke bombed so hard that everyone looked at you like you were practicing a DIY dentistry experiment like this guy:
…Then maybe it’s best to let someone else tell the jokes. But if you have the green light, then keep the jokes light and simple. Make them about an easy target. Think someone like Uncle Frank. He’s an easy target, a gregarious guy, plus he’s been drinking for six hours so he might not even notice anyone’s talking about him. And if he doesn’t, he probably won’t remember in the morning. So go for that. But once again, tread lightly! Leave the bride and her family out of it! (Okay, maybe her trashy brother can get some ribbing, but that’s about it).
That’s about it. Feeling any better? A little less nervous yet? Well, you should be. You’re gonna do great, especially if you follow my simple rules about how to give the best best man speech ever.
But think about it this way, worst case scenario, you give a terrible speech and ruin your brother’s wedding.
That just means you’ll make him your best man and he can return the favor to you! Best of luck out there.