The 5 Best Man Speech Mistakes to Avoid.
When people come to me for advice, they ask what they SHOULD do. What are the best techniques they can employ to make a best man speech everybody can enjoy and love so much that they carry you out of the venue in a golden chair that says ‘billy bollocks’ on the side.
Which is great. And of course, there are 1,000 things you SHOULD do in a best man speech. But, what people seldom ask, and I think can be much more important, is what SHOULDN’T you do?
Well, here are the top 5 best man speech mistakes to avoid, from my personal experience.
1. Don’t go on for too long.
There’s an odd belief that, especially in wedding speeches, the longer it is, then the better it is, when, in fact, the polar opposite is basically true. Length doesn’t imply effort, necessarily. Editing is effort. If writing a speech was doing gardening, then the idea generation, the joke making, these things are like chopping wood with an axe. They’re fun. They technically count as work, I guess, but you’d probably do it for a laugh if it wasn’t even asked of you.
Editing and structuring are more like getting rid of stinging nettles from between the slabs on the patio. Nobody wants to do it, but it will make a huge difference to the overall thing when it’s done.
That’s the effort bit. Doing the laborious task of cutting down, making sure it flows nice, trimming the fat, that’s what separates a good writer from an average one. And weddings are about everything going as close to perfect as they can. So for your sake and the guests’ sake, don’t drone on. 7 minutes is perfect.
2. Don’t change the way you speak.
When you are invited to write and perform a speech, something happens in most people where they believe there is some need to vocalise their thoughts in ways that are completely unnatural to them, looking up every few words in a Thesaurus like Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani in Friends.
If you want to say that there was a time the groom had too much to drink at a party, do not feel the need to say “one particular evening included therein the partaking of alcoholic libations, whereupon my learned friend did find himself overindulging in such a manner that he blah blah blah” no! John got drunk.
Simpler is always better. You’re not performing a lecture, you’re just talking and the more natural it sounds to your voice, the more organically people will respond to you. Don’t overdo it, really do just be yourself.
3. Don’t ignore anyone.
Bit of an odd sounding piece of advice but stick with it.
Everyone in the venue is your audience. If you’re a best man, then chances are you’re at the head table. Or maybe you’re not, maybe you’re right at the back of the room, but wherever you are, you shouldn’t forget anybody. Keep your eyes scanning round the room as much as you can. Look to the groom, the father of the bride, the little kid making faces out of her mash and peas, everyone.
Because, it may not sound like much, but when people even get a moment of eye contact from the person speaking, the chances are really high that they’ll smile back at you. And if they do that, that smile actually lasts for quite a while. And if you’re smiling, you’re much more likely to laugh.
Keep everybody engaged in your speech. You’ve spent weeks writing this, but you only have about 10 minutes to perform it, so make sure you give it the best chance it has in the big wide world when you speak it into existence.
4. Don’t forget your speech.
Now I don’t mean ‘forget’ like how you forget lines. I mean don’t forget to bring your speech with you. I am of the firm belief that it is much better to perform your speech with the printed out/handwritten version of it IN YOUR HANDS. I have a few reasons for this…
Even if you know your speech inside out, you never know how the nerves may affect you and it is so much better to have your speech as a back up, rather than freeze in the middle of it, not knowing where to go next.
The second reason is that it creates a tiny barrier between you and the audience. This might sound like a negative thing, but it’s actually a great psychological aid for people who might be a bit nervous about performing. Putting something between you and them is really going to help disengage your nerves.
The third reason is that it looks right. It might sound odd, but it looks right to see a best man reading from a piece of paper. Without it, you almost look like a stand up comedian. And stand ups are great, but there’s an air of arrogance around them. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, I actually think that’s part of the reason we like them so much, but there’s a cockiness there which you don’t really want with a best man speech. You want a best man to appear humble, unassuming and endearing. That’s when you’ll get the best reaction from your crowd. Keep the speech with you. It does no harm!
5. Don’t worry.
Simple as it comes, but probably the best tip anyone can be given. Do NOT worry.
Don’t worry about how you’ll come across to anybody except your groom or the subject of your speech. All that really matters is that they enjoy your speech. Nothing else really matters.
Don’t worry about trying something new. The chances are people will enjoy something unique, so if you’ve got an idea, maybe run it past a friend or two, but don’t be afraid to just go for it.
Don’t worry full stop. The less you can convince yourself not to worry about it, the more confidently you’ll come across. Nobody’s judging you, people just like to hear people talk about the people they love, so let them have that. They will be grateful of it. Remember, you’ve been asked to do this by someone who knows you incredibly well. So they already have an expectation of what it will be like, what you’ll say, how you’ll say it. They’ve hired you, you didn’t beg for this job. So take that faith they have in you and let it fuel your creativity.
STILL NEED HELP?
That’s about it for my top 5 things to avoid in a best man speech. Do your thing and enjoy the process, it’s one of the most intimate and lovely experiences you can be asked to do, so just take it as the compliment it is and roll with it.
If you still need help with your speech, I offer a variety of consultancy services. Simply click this link and complete the enquiry form to get started.