It may not be your big day, but anyone who has ever had the honour of being best man at a wedding will know just what a nerve jangling experience it can be. Not only do you have to arrange the stag party, but you have to ensure the groom is there on time and, of course, look after the rings.
And then of course there’s the speech………
So if the thought of standing up in front of a room full of people, many of which you’ve never met before, is giving you sleepless nights – here are a few tips to make sure your day goes without a hitch.
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Like any good Boy Scout will tell you, preparation is everything, and that is certainly the case when it comes to a best man speech. You might think you can wing-it, but this is often a recipe for disaster due to long periods of awkward silence. So in the weeks before hand start mulling over some ideas for the speech, coming up with thoughts, stories, jokes, and quotes you might want to use even if you don’t write them all down.
Stay off the Sauce
A few drinks might ‘take the edge off’ when it comes to your pre-speech nerves, but if you’re a jibbering wreck when you deliver your address you will be the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. So at least be man enough to postpone your own celebrations until after the speech is completed – you can then drink to your heart’s content when it’s all over.
Remember to say thank you
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of the speech, there are a few formalities that you must carry out. So remember to thank all the people who made the day possible. Make sure you mention the bride and groom’s parents by name, and offer a toast to them for everything from arranging a beautiful day to raising two fine individuals. You can then engage the room once again by thanking the guests for coming.
Connect with your audience
To keep the watching throng interested for as long as possible, it’s important that you make a connection with the room. Once you lose their attention you will soon be fighting a losing battle. So tell a story about how your friend realised his new bride was the one for him, or how their individual traits work perfectly together. It doesn’t have to be true, just a little tale to make everyone go, “aaaaah!”
Keep it brief
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Remember, people have already listened to the bridesmaid and the father of the bride give their spiel by the time you get to your feet. So by this time the only thing on the mind of your ‘audience’ is eating cake, drinking and dancing. Aim for a speech that is no more than five minutes, not just for their sake, but yours too.
Leave the Power Point in the office
Don’t rely on overhead projections, videos or images to save you. This can be tedious for those watching and means you are prone to technical malfunctions. Instead try to use your own words and simple gestures to say just how you feel. Remember, this is a wedding not a quarterly report to the board of directors.
Share the joke
Private jokes are, well, just that, private. So don’t think that just because you and your buddy found something hilariously funny once on a men’s shopping trip to New York, everyone else will too. If you want to keep people’s attention, save the inside jokes for a time when they will be more appreciated.
You’re not addressing the nation or presenting the Oscars here, and most people there will know you, so remember to be yourself. Let your words flow naturally and speak in your natural voice, that way you will feel more relaxed and everything you say will come across as much more genuine.
Make it clean
You may have a bucket load of stories from the last boys trip to Blackpool or football tour to Faliraki, but remember, half the room doesn’t want to hear tales of topless bars and tequila shots, even if the other half do. Save the X-rated stuff for the stag night and make sure that anything you include in your speech is acceptable to guests of all ages.
End with a simple toast
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You may be overwhelmed with relief when you get to the end of your speech, but there is one last important duty you need to carry out. Take your glass in one hand, raise it to the room and say something along the lines of “To the happy couple,” before sitting back down and leaving the room to the newlyweds.