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Public Speaking

The first thing most of us think of when the groom asks us to do the honours is the best man’s speech – and with good reason.

We all like to think we can pull out off-the-cuff one liners or witty anecdotes down the pub. But in a room packed full of your pal’s nearest and dearest all expecting instant hilarity it’s easy to fluff your way through a speech more John Major than John Bishop.

So naturally you seek a bit of advice on public speaking. Even if you ask no more than three people one is guaranteed to say something along the lines of: “Just imagine everyone in the room with no clothes on, then it’s much easier.”

With respect to said individual, that’s utter b*llocks, ignore it. Imaging 100 naked people is an unnecessary distraction and just a bit weird – especially when one is your pal’s mother-in-law.


The first simple step is to be familiar with your material. Not just with a few quick read throughs but so large parts can spoken rather than read. Think of your favourite drunken story, you’ve told it 100s of times and it just slides off the tongue. The more of your best man’s speech falls into that category the better.

While you may feel a little stupid performing it beforehand to an audience of one (perhaps your other half) and expecting them to split their sides, you could feel much more ridiculous airing it for the first time on the day.

Given your groom’s closest friends will be part of the crowd, it’s a fair bet that many of them will feature in some of the anecdotes – or at least of been present when they happened. Use this to your advantage by directly referencing them, even introducing them. It makes your speech seem more inclusive and encourages people to engage with it. If you’re attempting comedy, goodwill can be everything.

For example, imagine a decent joke from your favourite comic’s stand up routine. Now try and think how it would sound if exactly the same gag was told in an identical way 30 minutes into an episode of Loose Women. Would it still be funny? After half an hour of inane ‘banter’ between middle-aged women, probably not.

The point being is it’s important to get on a roll. It’s good to save a cracking yarn to end on but loading up the front of a best man’s speech with most of your best material does this. It’ll make what follows seem funnier.

Use of Props

Props are also a useful tool but not if over-complicated. You have to take the audience with you, not risk losing them while some glitch is rectified. Photos often say much more than words, blown up on a projector screen even more so. Whether it be ridiculous hair-styles superimposed on a fashion victim groom or the inevitable ‘point and laugh at’ snaps from his youth, laughs are almost guaranteed. Just make sure you’re familiar with the technology and processes involved.

A sidekick is handy for this type of thing and in fact, unless you’re the type who likes the limelight all to themselves, useful throughout. A common problem with making a best man’s speech is seeking refuge from the nerves by just reading it rather than delivering it. You may think this is playing it safe but it’s not. The throat often goes dry and the result is a monotone monologue that can lack feeling or charisma.

However, if you have a wingman to alternate parts of the speech with you get vital seconds to review what you’re about to deliver. When the time comes a few moments later you can then make things look much more natural and spontaneous. It also means that you have someone to bounce off and that rapport transmits itself to the rest of the room. Look at TV’s Ant and Dec, great together but has either ever won an individual award?

In short preparation is everything, do it well and you’ll stand up ready to kill the crowd. All you need make sure of now is that the nerves don’t get in the way of a brilliantly crafted best man’s speech.

Additional Help & Support

Now, we’re going to level with you here. If you’re not used to speaking in public, which frankly, most of us aren’t, you’d be forgiven for somewhat bricking up in the run up to the wedding day, in spite of our pep talk. If you think that you could benefit from individual support, and do not feel in the least bad for holding your hand up in doing so, then further help is at hand.

Out there are people who specialise in helping others deal with their nerves. One such person who our readers have recommended before, and who can assist in this area, is communication expert Sara Wolff. Sara has been helping lots of different people confront and overcome their fears of public speaking since 2007 by using a number of advanced techniques that she shares with her clients including NLP.

If your fear of standing up in front of all the guests on your best mate’s big day is going to stop you enjoying it altogether, then here’s your chance to get it sorted and use all that worry time to focus on writing some outrageously good content for your speech instead. To help our readers Sara has kindly agreed to provide a discount to iamthebestman patrons. Just quote BESTMAN to get a 5% discount from your first session. To find out more or to book a session with her in person or via Skype click on the link Easy Public Speaking.