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Being A Best Man

I've recently been asked to be my mates best man at his wedding in December.

I've accepted but my only problem is the speech. One of my biggest fears is public speaking and all I've heard since being asked to be his best man is horror stories of the best man bricking it when it comes to the speech.

In a way I'm a little lucky because his having 2 best men

Can anyone give me tips/advice or share your experiences of being a best man


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    some early practice:

    Say each three times without mistakes!

    The twenty to two train to Tooting tootled tunefully as it tore through the tunnel.

    A blokes back brake block broke.

    Irish wristwatch.

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    Just do what the best man at the wedding I went to last month did just before his speech. Stick 2 grammes up your nose!
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    My best man swerved the food and sat at bar downing drinks until he was so gone he didn't care anymore and it worked he was brilliant
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    I think the best opening line and one which will definely get a laugh is:

    'This is the second time today I have got off a warm seat with a piece of paper in my hand'

    good luck, I have been unlucky enough to go through this twice so now how you feel, my best advice is dont drink until after the speech



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    edited July 2011

    Just done it for the first time myself a couple of weeks ago.

    I did trawl the internet for a bit for the odd one liner, but you must try at least to make it personal & not offensive, be complimentary about the Bride, Bridesmaids & don't go on too long.

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    what plaaayer said. maybe double drop as well.

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    1. No drink, no drugs.

    2. Don't use long detailed notes, just have key words and phrases on one sheet of A4 paper.  That way your not reading out a script but talking to people.

    3. Don't think about talking to lots of people, imagine it's two or three people.  Pick out three people in the room, preferably some you know and who you can tell before you are nervous and look from one to the other.  They can nod and smile re-assuringly and to everyone else you look like you are making eye contact to the whole room.

    4. speak slowly.  Even more slowly that slow.  people naturally speed up when nervous so deep breath and s p a c e out the w o r d s.

    5. Keep smiling, helps you, helps them.

    6. Content, only use stuff you are comfortable with.  Words you know, jokes you KNOW will go down well.   Learn it.  Doesn't have to be word for word (See 2) just so you know it.

    7. Focus on what is important.  It's not your day and really no one is too worried if you do brilliantly or just OK.  Make sure you thank all the right people, say how wonderful the couple will be and that's it really.  Anything else is padding and showing off.  

    Good luck
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    If you're not good at public speaking you will probably make the occasion worse by trying to be witty and coming up with some hilarious anecdotes about the groom. Own up! Open your speech with something like "I'm not good at public speaking so you'll be pleased to know I'm going to make this short and sweet". There are certain
    things you're expected to say, such as toasts, thanking the bridesmaids
    etc but beyond that just say something short but heartfelt.

    Failing that, track down Rowan Atkinson's sketch about wedding speeches and copy that!
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    I was in same situation as you, except he had 3 'best men'. Absolutely hate public speaking and really suffer from nerves but hopefully these tips will help you out.

    My first bit of advice is to make sure you get to do the first speech - get your claim in for that first spot ASAP. Nothing worse sitting there there listening to someone one making everyone laugh, thinking 'how do I follow that'. This also stops someone else from using any of the stories that you may have wanted to use.

    2nd - get your speech completed at least 2 weeks before the day. Write it out long hand and just keep practising saying it out aloud, not just in your head. Eventually you will find yourself looking less and less at the written page and will remember large chunks of it without referring to the notes. I ended up only taking a couple of small cue cards, such as Hotel Fire Alarm, The Beautiful Pickpocket of Piccadilly etc. It looks much more natural glancing at the odd cue card rather than standing up and reading from a page.

    3rd - have a look at some of the speeches on HITCHED.CO.UK - dont use generic jokes such as - it been a joyful day, even the cake was in tiers - as chances are most people there have heard those jokes. this site gives you some idea of structure of the speech and lets you know who you are meant to reference - i.e. - dont the bridesmaids look lovely etc.

    4th - start with a (non offensive) joke - something like: First of all I would like to say how beautiful the Sarah/Megan/daisy etc looks today. You look one in a million. And Dave, you look won in a raffle.

    Finally - ltry to enjoy yourself and dont get too drunk. I didnt really enjoy the day until I sat down after my speech, but was really glad that I did get to be part of one of my best mates big day..



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    When I was best man I was worried by the fact that the bride's father was a director of an insurance company, local Conservative bigwig, member of Rotary, etc. So I spent days working on my speech and honed it to perfection. On the day the bride's dad got up mumbled a toast and sat down again! That left me with a totally over the top masterpiece and nothing to fall back on. So I just delivered it anyway. I think I was left on the cutting room floor when the video came out!

    My advice to you is to do what you are comfortable with and don't worry about it. After all, you will be amongst friends - it's not like you're going into a packed pub in Thornton Heath to talk about your love of Charlton.
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    I did a best man speech for the first time last year and, like yourself, I was terrified at the prospect, but it went pretty well in the end.

    A few points to remember:
    - it's a wedding, everyone's in a good mood, will have had a few drinks, it won't take much to get them laughing;
    - your audience is on your side, they aren't sitting there willing you to fail;
    - get a decent joke in at the beginning, they'll warm to you straight away and as soon as you've got a laugh out of them you'll feel a hundred times more relaxed and confident than you did before.
    - it helps a lot if you've got use of a microphone so you don't have to worry about raising your voice for people at the back.

    There's plenty of websites with advice and sample jokes, although bare in mind that lots of people have seen these websites already. There's a few jokes that I've heard at 3 or 4 different weddings.

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    edited July 2011
    Own up! Open your speech with something like "I'm not good at public speaking so you'll be pleased to know I'm going to make this short and sweet".
    Sorry, but I would definitely  advise against this.  If you tell them that you are not good, you're doing two big no-nos:  Firstly you are setting the audience up so that they will be less than interested.  Sure, tell them that it's going to be short and sweet, but don't say anything that will put them into a negative frame of mind.   Secondly, it reinforces your own negative views and makes it less likely that you will do a good job.  The point of the practising that other people have suggested is to be able to deliver your speech well -  you need to believe that you can deliver it well.  If your opening line stops you from believing that, it will make your job all the more difficult.  

    Anyone can make a good public speech, and I mean anyone.  There are three main things you need to focus on:
     - Make it interesting.
     - Be well rehearsed - but not necessarily word for word; you need some spontaneity.
     - Do whatever you can to overcome your own nerves.

    A couple of little tips that I don't think have been mentioned yet:
     - Have a glass of water handy.  I will keep your mouth from going dry, and can be used as a tool to slow yourself down if you're going to quick.
     - If you're writing notes (again, as others have said keywords only) put them on a small piece of card rather than paper, it wont shake about then.
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    In my experience, the audience isn't really that interested in the first place so telling them you're going to put them out of their misery soon is far from a no-no!
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    I am in a similar postion, I hate public speaking but am getting married in 18 months time and am dreading the speach. I also have to give my Mum and Sister away in the next 2 years as well.

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    Lots of advice on here-  not all of it consistent!  Two practical things I would emphasise:
    1. Do use a microphone.  I went to a wedding recently where the bride's father refused to use it and no-one could hear a thing (fortunately). If you are facing one side of the room when you speak or if you are looking at your notes then your voice won't carry to the other side.
    2. As Henry said - speak slowly - far more so than you would in face to face conversation.
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    Thanks people. Some good stuff which I will try to take on board. I guess I'm lucky that its not all put on my shoulders as there's 2 of us.

    My mate said the speeches are after dinner. I asked him If I could do mine at the party bit. People a bit more tipsy, lights dimmed and I can use a mic

    Stag do is likely to be in Cardiff so should pick up a few stories from there
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    Henry's advice will stand you in good stead, basically have good notes and practice well. Speak clearly, slowly, don't be afraid to pause and to smile. A line that I always like is " I remember that when he ( the groom )  was born, the Midwife took one look at the baby and slapped his Mother ." Above all remember that everyone in the room is on your side, and good luck.
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    Great ideas on this thread. Get pissed, or smashed up before your speech. That way you'll make a complete and utter c*** out of yourself, your mate/brother/whoever resent you for the rest of your life, and all his and his bride's relatives remember you as 'that c*** who made a prat out of himself on so-and-so's wedding night' - but you won't care about it at the time.

    In all seriousness, having done this three times now, just write a small speech, with a few jokes, thank all the right people and take a couple of cue cards with you to make sure you don't forget anyone.
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    I would say avoid the internet and don't go for the generic stuff.  I'd also avoid mentioning anything that happened on the stag, unless its pretty tame, because I've seen the looks of horror from the in-laws when the wrong things get said, it's pretty funny as a by-stander though!

    Last wedding I went to the best man brought what looked like the complete works of Shakespeare with him, notes and notes of papers, yet he only spoke for a few brief minutes.  At another wedding a nervous mate of mine had a whiteboard with him and cocked up part of the 'act' but it got the biggest laugh and after that he was fine.  I would have thought props would add to the confusion.
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    Practice, practice, practice.

    I don't think it matters if you have the whole thing written out or not. If you practice it 10-15 times in the week beforehand you'll hardly need the transcript anyway. And don't just practice it in your head- get the house to yourself and belt it out, making sure to include pauses for the inevitable laughs.

    I personally prefer to write a speech out on cue cards. This makes it much easier to break your speech down into sections (since there isn't much room to write on them!) and you don't have a big scruffy A4 piece of paper flying around. If the cards are small people will hardly notice you're using them either.

    Is it going to be a joint speech or 2 separate ones?
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    Hey, there's an idea - you could do a joint speech as if you were news presenters who start and finish each-others sentences and always seem to come in pairs these days.
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    Well the other best man also said his gonna be bricking himself aswell so maybe if we do a joint speech it will make us feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less nervous. 2 people working on one speech may work well
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    Definately go on the internet ! Get some ideas for structure & content but then introduce your own ideas. It's never too soon to start writing your speech. You can write a rough draft perhaps from the internet guides but then slowly introduce bits & pieces relevant to your mate. You will probably think/remember things at any strange time so write them down cause when you're sober the next day ;-|)  you'll have forgotten it. Easy to say but as many here have advised nobody will want you to fail, on the one occasion I have been a bestman despite shitting myself beforehand I actually enjoyed it. Having said that I was fairly pissed lol   
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    there are some great if corny icebreakers on the web if you trawl, use a few of these, keep in entertaining and mostly clean if you can
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    Use the internet, ask friends all you want.  You WILL shit yourself for the entire day and the horrible feeling will only be over once you have finished and people have laughed. 

    I did my best pals one last August and I was a shaking, jibbering, mess before.  The only things that will take the edge off your nerves are nicotine, narcotics and alcohol I'm afraid.  In moderation of course ;-)

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    I think it will be impossible sober. Im going to have a fair few drinks. Dont smoke. But may take it up :D. It should be the groom crapping it but I got a feeling I'll be worse that him on the day.

    Im liking the line so far of 'the bride looks one in a million, the groom won in a raffle'

    Just see a quality video on you tube of a bloke playin the guitar and singing about his best man.
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    Been best man 3 times. All for my brother!


    It gets easier each time and the stags get better. Use the net and you'll find a couple of appropriate jokes that are relevant to him/them. You can always edit them to fit.


    5 minutes is fine, over ten is boring.

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    5 minutes is fine, over ten is boring.

    My wife says that to me all the time
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    edited July 2011
    lots of good advice here.  having done a couple and a groom speech I can't agree more with these points...
    - be yourself.  if you're not a natural comedian don't try to be one.  
    - practice lots.  I did mine in front of a camcorder.
    - speak slowly
    - if you can get one, use a microphone
    - have a good a start, with a quick laugh which will allow a pause so you can catch your breath (I went with the below...)
    "I've been pretty worried about making a speech but one of the books I read said if you imagine your audience naked it'll calm you down" <a little bit of acting here needed because you need to look around the room> then add "but having had a look at you lot I think I'd rather cock it up".  Queue some laughter and you get 20 seconds to compose yourself...after the first laugh it gets easier.

    I'd add these points...
    - I wrote all mine down word for word, in large text and each paragraph colour coded (on the advice of my toastmaster).  however write it down how you would say, not how you would write a letter.  try it, these are two massively different things.  I've seen two speeches go completely tits up that weren't completely scripted, if you have it written down at worst you can read it but it's there as a comfort if nothing else.
    - try to make your groom laugh.  if he's laughing then the guests will laugh.

    All in all, try to enjoy it.  Everyone in the room wants you to do well.

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    I'm still amazed 3 people asked Leroy to be best man?
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