Reading an entire speech from a sheet of paper can make it sound a bit lifeless and can stop you from making eye contact with the audience. One way to get around this is to memorise your speech, and use prompts to remind you of what to say.
To cut down on the amount of text you use, first write the speech out, then make very brief notes that remind you of each part of it. Gradually cut back on your text, so the notes say as much as you need to jog your memory.
Make a set of cue cards. These are small index cards with key phrases that remind you of different parts of your speech and are stacked in the order that you say them. Inserting blank cards for pauses can help you pace your speech. Even if you feel you need to put your whole speech on cards, they are still preferable to a piece of paper, because you will need to pause and look up as you turn them.
Best man speech props
Physical gags, games, visuals and tricks can all be part of a best man’s speech. So if you don’t want to be stuck just reading a prepared text – don’t be. Let your imagination run wild.
If your speech is going to involve the use of props, make sure that you do plenty of rehearsal with them beforehand and also ensure that any machinery is in good working order before the big day.
Make ‘em look
Simple props can be used to begin with a bang. One best man, for instance, started off his speech with the remark: ‘I hate it when people use cheap gimmicks to get attention, don’t you?’ before whipping off his baseball cap and pony tail to reveal a completely bald pate.
Lots of different props can be used for this type of joke. Why not try:
a revolving bow tie
a clown nose
One motorcycle-mad groom thought he’d do something really different on his wedding day by roaring into the reception on his brand-new Harley Davidson. Only, unknown to him, his younger brother-cum-best man had got wind of the plan. As the groom arrived at the top table on his gleaming steed, he heard a strange creaking noise coming from the back of the room. He turned around to see his brother upstage him completely by trailing behind on a rusty child’s tricycle.
Harry and Sam are a pair of brothers known for their sensitivity, so when Harry got married it wasn’t surprising that both he and best man Sam were in floods of tears before the speeches had even started. But when the time came for Harry to be Sam’s best man, he decided to come prepared. Before beginning his speech, he produced an enormous plastic bag stuffed with packets of tissues, which he distributed among the audience. It wasn’t long before they were throwing them back at him.
When he was best man for his friend Pete, Richard decided to use a flip chart of photographs and a pointer to liven up his speech. Only the pictures weren’t ones of the happy couple as toddlers or newspaper cuttings of their achievements. Instead there was a skip – representing Pete’s first car; a picture of a bombsite – representing his bedroom, and so on. It was a simple idea, but it got big laughs.
Loud and clear
A quick visual gag can get a speech off to a great start, as Michael demonstrated when he was best man. When he started speaking the audience couldn’t hear a word because he was mumbling so much – until he produced a huge loudhailer and roared ‘Can you hear me at the back?’ through it.
Read the signs
Introduce your speech by saying that you’ve got a sore throat and can’t speak very loudly, so your friend is going to use sign language to interpret what you’re saying. Your friend will then make exaggerated and ridiculous hand gestures to accompany your speech. Obviously, this one will need a lot of rehearsal.
Have a series of funny hats under the table which you put on as you run through the groom’s life story – e.g. a baby bonnet, a school cap, a mortar board, fireman’s helmet, a baseball cap, a deerstalker. The more ridiculous the hats, the better.
Write a mock school report on the bride or groom and read it out, relating it to the events of the day, such as: ‘It says here that Paula doesn’t suffer fools gladly… which is bad news as she’s just got married to Steve.’
Get your friends together and make a spoof video documentary featuring their thoughts and feelings about the bride and groom. A couple can dress up as the happy couple and re-enact their first meeting.