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Your best man speech doesn’t need to go down in history. It doesn’t need to be cited by friends years later as a transcendental moment in public speaking. It does not need a standing ovation for validation.It just needs to not suck.There are a lot of ways this could go wrong. Here are just a few:
What? You didn’t prepare anything for perhaps the most significant moment of your best friend’s life? Really, guy? Of all the people in the groom’s life, he chose you to represent him and his family. And you have spent zero minutes preparing. Good start.
Better idea: Toastmasters suggests organizing your speech “in a logical sequence: opening, main points, summary. …Practice and rehearse a speech frequently prior to delivering it. Ask friends to be your audience, or practice in front of a mirror. Be sure to use a timer to help you pace your speech.”
Yes, we know the groom asked you to give this speech. Yes, we know it’s an honor. We can’t believe it was over beers. Where is this going?
Better idea: Tell us about the most compelling moment of the groom’s life, preferably involving his lady, and leave a cliffhanger for the end of the speech. The in media res storytelling strategy—meaning, to start in the middle of things—was championed by brilliant authors such as Shakespeare, Homer and most worthwhile James Bond films.
We don’t care what a well-connected, successful pillager of foes you are. The audience will judge your worthiness based on how well you praise your BFF and his beautiful wife. That is your only metric. That time you sailed from Kaui to Oahu and introduced the groom to his future boss? Don’t care. The time you welcomed the new guy to prep school nobody else would? Somebody else did. The groom gave you a stock tip that fortified your portfolio? Skip it.
Better idea: Speak on a level everyone can understand. Focus on stories illustrative of the character of the bride and groom. Before you give the speech, redact all status-related backstory and replace with character-related context. Let’s conduct a quick lesson:DON’T: “John and I met in the Dean’s office at Harvard, each of us on the brink of expulsion…”DO: “In college, John’s community service helped keep our campus clean…”
Here’s a good way to reek of insecurity—let the world know of your superiority complex by reciting all the times little bro had to dwell in older bro’s shadow. You’ll definitely want to say he made the most of his lackluster intellect, height, athleticism, looks and charm. If his bride is out of his league, we’ll know it. If she’s not and you say it…awkward.
Better idea: Before writing the speech, talk to some of his friends or understudies who clearly look up to the groom and get their perspective on the man. Why is your buddy such a god? It could very well lead to a helpful anecdote for your speech.
Dude, the father of the bride will have to work another ten years of his life to pay for the wedding. Thank that man! Some day, that potentially thankless job will be yours.Conversely, thanking everyone in the building is a great way to lose your audience. Your mutual pal George may have “saved” the groom’s life in that bar fight years back, but he’ll live if he’s not mentioned — the open bar is gratitude enough.
Better idea: Ask yourself one question: who wouldn’t this day be possible without? Thank those people! They were clutch.
Listen, I enjoy an NSFW story as much as you do, but there is a time and a place. Let’s all agree grandma should enjoy her monthly manhattan without the following words: tongue, plow, stripper, blow, orgasms, bedroom, conceived, flaccid, juices, veiny, thrust, pooper, seepage, moist, fresh, slop bucket, milk, teat, cougar, wipe, scabies, teeming, etc.
This is the time for toasting the groom, the bride and thanking them for letting them into their life. Lift your glass, say the words, sip, withhold self-reverence. In that order.
Allowable: winking at your date on the way back to your table.
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