With your speech in the bag, here are some words of wisdom to help make sure you do a great job on the big day
Practise, practise, practise
‘The more I practise,’ said golfing legend Gary Player, ‘the luckier I get.’ Ask Tiger Woods or David Beckham how they became the best in their profession and they’ll tell you it’s all down to practise. Whatever you levels of confidence and competence at the moment of taking on the speech job, putting time into your prep will reap serious improvements.
Use your partner, your family or close friends as guinea pigs, running through the whole thing with them at least a couple of times. This will give you a chance to iron out any wrinkles in the text, hone the delivery of your punchlines and change anything that really doesn’t work.
Remember whose day it is
You’re not the star of the show, the bride and groom are. Remember that, as best man, you’re supposed to be playing a supporting role, not taking centre stage. Obviously you want to entertain people but, if you do so at the expense of the bride and groom and their enjoyment of the day, you’ll have failed in your duties, however many laughs you get from the crowd.
Don’t get drunk
For many people, having a few drinks when you’re nervous is a good way of relaxing and calming the nerves. As you watch the rest of wedding party tuck into the wine, you may well be tempted. They’re getting sozzled, so why shouldn’t you?
Try and resist that temptation at all costs. Have a glass of wine with your meal but leave it at that. One glass too many will only diminish your judgment and you could find yourself telling that embarrassing ‐‐ worse still, offensive ‐‐ joke without realising what you’re doing. Reward yourself with a good drink ‐‐ after the speech.
Keep to the script
Ideally you’ll have put your speech ‐ if not verbatim then in note form ‐‐ on to prompt cards. Use them to keep your speech flowing and to make sure that you don’t miss anything important out. But, equally importantly, make sure you don’t start adding things in.
If the speech is going well, your confidence will soar and the adrenaline may make you think that you should spice a perfectly good, well‐rehearsed speech up with additional material. The safest bet, unless you are a really experienced performer, is to stick to what you’ve practised.
No one knows what you’re going to say in your speech. So if, for whatever reason, you skip a section, lose your place or simply dry up ‐‐ don’t worry. Most people won’t know that you’ve gone wrong. Simply pause, find a place on your prompt cards where you can get back on track and carry on from there.
Speak up, slow down
No matter how good your material is, and no matter how well you’ve rehearsed your gags, if your audience can’t hear you, they’re never going to laugh. The most common mistakes a best man can make are to mumble, talk to the floor and/or talk at a million miles an hour ‐‐ worst, of all of these at once! Speak up and slow down, and you’ll be fine.
Never heckle hecklers
No one in the room wants to see the best man fail to make a great speech. But, when the nerves are jangling and the adrenaline is pumping, being interrupted by someone in the crowd can seem like the rudest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. You may be sorely tempted to tell the clever dick to keep their thoughts to themselves. Don’t.
If someone heckles you, roll with it. Some people like to join in with the speeches at weddings and almost certainly don’t mean any harm. More often than not the things people shout out are very funny. Laugh along with them and you’ll find it helps you to relax.
Think of your speech as a gift to your friends. It’s an honour to have been asked, so see your words are a token of your appreciation as well as your own special contribution to the special‐ness of their special day. Above all, enjoy yourself. If you’re having a good time, and are speaking with goodwill, you cannot fail to warm all your audience too.