There’s no escaping the fact that writing and delivering a speech is many people’s idea of hell. Public speaking often tops the list of most common phobias and if you consider the difficulties of talking to many different people at once and the scope for things to go wrong then it’s understandable why speeches aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, nerves don’t need to come into the equation if you follow this simple advice.


One of the best tips for overcoming any fear is to be well prepared and this means preparing, writing and rehearsing your speech well in advance. Don’t leave it until the last few hours before the wedding – that can only lead to disaster.

It should last between 5 and 8 minutes. As a guide, if you format your speech in Arial (which is the easiest font to read), 12 point with 1.5 line spacing then it should take approximately one minute to read each page.

Your speech should contain nothing that you wouldn’t be happy saying to your Grandma or to a young relation. Your aim should be for mild embarrassment, not total annihilation


You can be as creative as you like, but regardless of whether you’re using props, video footage or recreating famous scenes from the groom’s life using lego figures, bear in mind that the format of beginning, middle and end is a tried and tested one.

A simple format would be to begin by introducing yourself (e.g. how you know the groom) and your speech (e.g. ‘I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve learned about the groom in the time I’ve known him’). The middle would then consist of some carefully chosen facts and stories about the groom, culminating in the final phase of a toast which sums up your hopes for the happy couple.

Although you’re the one with the responsibility to deliver the speech, there are loads of people who can help you with your material, by chipping in with stories, jokes and one-liners. It’s good if you can use material from all these different areas as it will make it accessible and enjoyable for the guests on the day.

  • Speak to the groom’s parents and brothers and sisters. Siblings are an especially good source of embarrassing stories, they’ll probably also know where to find supporting evidence like photos, etc.
  • Your fellow Stags will usually be best mates of the groom from all different areas of his life.
  • The bride– in theory she should know him better than anyone!

One final thing about generating material is that best men often forget to ask themselves what they really want to say to the groom on the biggest day of his life. Even though most men would rather jump in nettles than say how they feel, an honest emotional reaction to the day, or a moment of seriousness can often provide a better toast than a thousand heard-it-before jokes.

When it comes to writing the speech there’s no easy way around it – you just have to get on with it. You should aim to have your first draft done before the Stag do, which then gives you a couple of weeks to edit and re-write and, of course, to practice.


There’s a rule of thumb that you should do an hour’s practice per minute of speech – so you’re looking at between five and eight hours of rehearsals for your Best Man speech. You might feel comfortable with your material before that point, in which case don’t push it or your delivery could sound a bit stale. If you have a camcorder, try recording yourself. It’s amazing how useful this can be and what you can learn about yourself.

It’s useful to have at least one copy of your speech on you and give another copy to a trusted friend or partner. Even if you feel comfortable doing your speech without your text, at least you know that if your mind goes blank you’ve got a copy with you. It’s not advisable to learn it off by heart, it can sound flat and lifeless and if something deviates from the way it’s practiced (a heckle for instance) it can make you forget the whole thing.

There are some simple rules for good delivery:

  • Either don’t drink at all before you give your speech, or limit your intake.
  • If you’re using a microphone get all of the speechmakers to practice with it as it’s very difficult to judge volume.
  • Write in some stage directions for your speech about pausing, looking up and breathing.
  • If you’re using props or other audio-visual materials make sure that they work before you start your speech.

The final point about a good delivery is that you should enjoy it. If you get your speech sorted early enough, you will actually be able to enjoy the day and a well-written, well-performed speech is something the bride and groom will remember forever. The bridesmaids may also think you’re really funny and clever … and who knows where that can lead?


Speech writing services

  • Burn The Toast can help you with your wedding speech. They provide a range of services from bespoke speeches, speech editing or instant template speeches and examples –, tel: 01477 534689.

Presentation skills

  • Toastmasters International is a non-profit organisation that help people improve their communication skills. Members have the opportunity to practice public speaking in front of a supportive audience, following assignments and receiving evaluation from experienced speakers. Guests are welcome to attend free of charge and will not be asked to speak unless they wish to. We know people who swear by the help they received –
  • The Association of Speakers Clubs helps people to overcome their fears and speak confidently in public through friendly support at local speakers clubs-
  • Skillstudio offer training courses to help become more confident at public speaking –
  • ProMind Public Speaking are based in London and specialises in removing the fear of public speaking –
  • The College of Public Speaking offer public speaking courses in London –
  • See Speech Help in the Directory for further resources.