Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Writing a Great Best Man Speech

Here’s the big one. It’s time to choose what to say.

There you are, microphone in hand, the audience expectant, the bride and groom looking at you, and it’s the moment when what you say can impact everyone in the room. It’s a big deal.

By now you have considered your audience and what they want to hear. You’ve chosen a topic about which you feel passionate. You have a unique perspective. Right? If not, think about these elements of your speech or go back and re-watch those sections.  Remember:  Don’t be the guy who wings it.

When you have these down, it’s time to write your speech. We’ll give you some guidance in the form of an outline for a typical wedding toast. We don’t mean “typical” in a bad way, but in the sense of what people are used to hearing and what time normally allows. Note there are some really unusual speeches in our sample speeches area if you want to go off the beaten path.

First, the introduction. Every speech starts with an introduction. By definition it’s impossible not to have one. Right? We recommend one of two approaches.

The first option is to introduce yourself, say something nice about the occasion and say “thank you” for being given the honor of being the best man and the chance to give the toast. Then get into your speech. Those pleasantries are expected so it’s always safe to say them, even if you plan on busting out a rap for your main speech or something unusual afterwards.

Also, feel free to acknowledge a couple of key people in your introduction, the hosts, the mother and father of the bride, the sister who flew in from Australia, and so on. It makes everyone feel happy. Start using humor early on if that’s your style, or to be sweet explain that it took the sister 22 hours to get here from “down under”.

The second option is what we call the “dive right in” approach. This somewhat advanced technique can be very effective. Instead of going into thank you and acknowledgements you can go right into a story. Literally take the microphone and say “The first time I saw these two together was at the beach…” There’s something calming about diving right in; perhaps it releases the tension from the audience by breaking a pattern they expect, including a nervous speaker who doesn’t sound like they know what to say.  If you go this route you can always throw in some pleasant expected things later towards the end of the speech.

Given the choice we like the second option if for no other reason it’s used less often.

After the intro comes the main body. This is where you’re going to take your unique perspective and passionate subjects and wow the audience.  Start by saying something like “since this is such a special occasion I dug deep to figure out what this really means” or “I’m going to sing a song that explains everything” or “I think a little history is in order here to truly explain how these two people ended up happily married”. People love a good story. By the way, most people really enjoy a good LOVE story, especially the ladies.

As for the actual sentences that fill up this main body, if you’re not sure how to write it we recommend trying to tell the story out loud to yourself or someone who’s willing to listen. There’s nothing wrong with writing like we speak – although within reason. Talk it out. Tell the story. Explain what you think and feel.

If you’re using humor, throw in a few jokes. If you’re using the “nice guy” approach, make sure to say some especially kind things. Be specific and intentional, but not obvious or syrupy.  If you like the historical approach, tell a brief story that’s likely to interest the entire room, not just you and a couple of your buddies.  Ensure what you say is appropriate and won’t offend anyone.  Even if you ARE a professional standup comic, be careful.

As to length, keep it relatively short unless you’re feeling confident AND you have a bunch of great stuff to say. To pick a number let’s say under 5 minutes.  The general rule is when in doubt, keep it short. The audience may be nervous for you, because they’re all picturing themselves up there in the same situation, so dragging it out can make it feel endless. Plus people want to get back to what they were doing—eating, drinking, dancing and being merry. Also, the event is usually timed. Going way over the allocated time means extra costs or less time for something else that was planned.   

To end your speech, regardless of how funny or historical or deep you were, just make it heartfelt. Everyone wants it and they kind of need it. It’s like the end of the movie when all the emotions come together. Awwww.

Say something like “seriously (if you’ve been using humor), these two people are so important to me” or “that’s the story of how we got here, now the story is about the future. No one knows what life will bring, but I can tell you right at this very moment what I see. I see two people who found each other among seven billion, despite the sheer odds and uncertainty of it all, and I see a unique love and commitment that makes me proud to be a part of this moment.” Don’t make yourself sick, just be as nice as you feel comfortable being.

And last, because people have been doing it for thousands of years and everyone expects it, say “now, let’s raise our glasses and toast the new bride and groom”, or something like that. Or come up with something terribly clever to replace that ritual so you don’t have to wonder to yourself why we’re still calling it a “toast” after all these years. Regardless, bask in the smiles and applause of the entire audience and know that it was a job well done.

Next up in your quest to give the greatest wedding speech ever is learning HOW to give your speech. Meaning body language, volume, eye contact, and things like that.