How to write a great best man speech
The key to a great best man speech is structure.
You’ll get no argument from me that humor is an important part of your speech — I’m a professional comedy writer — but if your speech wanders around and goes nowhere, your audience will check out, and they won’t be paying attention by the time your punchlines arrive.
Give your speech a clear structure and a reasonable length, and your audience will stay engaged, your speech will flow, and your jokes will land the way you want them to.
I’ve ghostwritten hundreds of best man speeches, and when it comes to structure, I like to break each speech down into six (6) basic building blocks.1. Introduce yourself
Who are you and why are you speaking? “I’m Steve’s brother, Chris. Steve spoke at my wedding, and I have a feeling that’s a decision he’ll soon come to regret.” Add a laugh or keep it all business. Most of the purpose of this moment is to give the room an extra second to settle and tune in. The informational part is so they don’t turn to their tablemates to ask, “Is that his brother?” If they’re talking to each other, they’re not listening to you. And if they’re not listening, they’re not laughing. Punchlines don’t get laughs if people haven’t heard the set-up.2. Thank yous
Don’t forget to thank your hosts. When in doubt, thank. You’ll never regret adding a thank you, but you will regret forgetting one. Do try to keep your thanks streamlined. The more you have, the shorter they should each be.3. Your half of the couple
Tell us how you first met your half of the couple and why they're wonderful. “Scott and I first met at Camp Blue Bottle, 28 years ago. We were 7 years old, and Scott was roughly the same height he is today. I don’t have to tell any of you what a great guy he is. Together, we’ve… (EXAMPLES OF YOUR ADVENTURES TOGETHER.) But I think my favorite Scott story is about the time we ____.” Be conversational. And to be funny, you don’t have to force in corny jokes — all you have to do is be specific and self-aware.4. The other half of the couple
Tell us how you first met the other half of the couple and why they're wonderful -- even if you don’t think they’re wonderful. Find something nice to say and don’t be passive aggressive. Building block #4 is usually shorter than #3. You don’t need much, but make sure it’s sincere.5. I’m so glad you two found each other, or words to that effect
(See tip #4 if you’re not happy they found each other.) This is the wrap up. Tell us how you feel about the couple finding one another. “Stacey, I honestly couldn’t ask for a better match for my best friend. You’re kind, you’re caring, and you’re beautiful inside and out. And I hope for your sake that Scott doesn’t wet the bed as often he did at Camp Blue Bottle.”6. A great big, raise-your-glass toast
Finally, a great, big, 'raise your glass' toast to the bride and groom. Toast, then leave. Can't follow that. Also, while this is a ‘drop the mic’ moment, don’t actually drop the mic, unless you want the cost to come out of the couple’s deposit.