Congratulations, one of your best friends is getting married and you’ve been chosen to be his best man. While that’s the highest honor a fellow buddy can give to you, putting you in charge of planning the bachelor party and acting as his right hand man before and during the wedding, it also means standing in front of a room to talk about your good friend.
Even those people who are great at public speaking fear giving a kick-ass best man’s speech, for it’s the one time you need to be charming, funny, witty, complimentary of both bride and groom and, basically, make sure you’re sober enough to not drop some F bombs or embarrass your friend too much.
After attending a wedding last weekend that left the entire room confused with why the best man there decided to tell past stories about the groom being single, it only felt necessary to remind everyone that delivering a best man’s speech that will have people talking about it for years isn’t easy. Luckily, we’re here to help.
Don’t overdo the humor
It’s one thing to be funny, it’s something entirely different when you’re trying too hard to be funny, so make sure you avoid that at all costs. Look, nobody expects you to be a stand up comedian who knows how to work a room and make people laugh with nearly every word, so it’s important to be genuine and keep the jokes at a premium. This means speaking honestly about your friend to get the attention of the room, but dropping a quick one-liner to loosen them up a bit.
Don’t be hammered before giving it
As mentioned above, even the best public speakers can be fearful of giving a best man’s speech. That’s because it’s so personal that it can be difficult to say the right things. While having one drink might knock off the edge a bit, under no circumstances should you be hammered before or during giving one, because, if you are, you’re walking into a death trap. As the best man, you’re responsible for acting differently than the other groomsmen, so let them get drunk before your speech, then join them once you drop the mic.
Don’t use inside jokes
It’s easy to think everyone in the room will understand you and your buddy’s lingo or inside jokes when putting your best man’s speech together, but that’s far from the case. To come across as funny is to appeal to the masses, and not just speak to 15 people in the room who will relate to the jokes you and your friends have been saying or doing for 20 years. If you confuse the audience, you’re going to bomb.
Avoid cheap insults
Sure, you want to bust the balls of your friend a little bit, but not to the point that people are cringing, confused with why you’d throw cheap insults at him, his bride or any of the families. Keep things playful between you and the groom, and remember to avoid any major issues like religion, politics, sex or other hot topic issues that may offend someone at the head table or in the crowd.
Be a little self-deprecating
The entire day is all about the bride and groom, so treat both of them like a prince and princess. That means it’s OK to joke about how lucky the two of them are to have met each other, and how you’re now the one buddy who’s still using online dating apps to find his match. It’s a subtle dig at yourself that people will laugh at, while also making the two newlyweds feel special.
Keep any jokes short and simple
It’s not your job to write out jokes and perform as if you’re at a comedy club. Sure, it helps if you have a few one-liners lined up, but nobody wants to hear you describe something, then wait for a hook. Talk about a few dumb things your buddy used to do, but keep them appropriate, and then talk about how the bride helped him get over those things to become a better guy. Those are politically correct and safe, so you won’t risk the possibility of hearing crickets from everyone.