We’ve all seen it in the movies - the best man confidently grabs the microphone, delivers a heartfelt and humorous speech, and ends to thunderous applause. For those of us with a fear of public speaking, it’s our worst nightmare. Your palms get sweaty, your voice shakes, and you wish the floor would open up and swallow you whole.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right preparation and mindset, you can knock that speech out of the park, despite your nerves. In this blog post, we’ll walk through practical tips to go from sweaty palms to standing ovation, even if you’re terrified of public speaking. You’ve got this!
As the best man, it’s your duty to deliver a memorable speech on your mate’s big day. No pressure right? For me, the thought of speaking in front of a large crowd – including family, friends, and complete strangers – was utterly terrifying. My palms would start sweating at just the thought of it. But this was my best mate’s wedding, and I was determined to man up and make it a speech to remember.
If you’re also terrified of public speaking, you can do it! Giving a great best man speech doesn’t require natural charisma or comfort in the spotlight. With the right mindset and preparation, we can overcome stage fright and speak from the heart. In this blog, I’ll share what worked for me and lots of tips to nail your speech with flying colours, even if you’re nervously sweating through your shirtsleeves.
Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
Before we get into the practical stuff, it helps to start by addressing the root of the problem – the fear itself. You’re definitely not alone in your anxiety. Surveys show over 70% of people fear speaking in public. Our brains are wired to go into fight or flight mode when all eyes are on us. But there are ways to manage it:
Acknowledge it's normal to be nervous. Everyone from actors to politicians gets stage fright sometimes. Admitting your fear takes away some of its power.
Share your story. Opening up to close friends or family about your nerves can help. Their encouragement can give you a confidence boost.
Focus on your purpose. You're doing this for your mate! Keeping the focus on them helps take the attention off yourself.
Visualise success. Picture yourself nailing the speech and the crowd cheering. Envision the feeling of accomplishment.
Practise deep breathing. When anxiety ramps up, take slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body.
Try mindfulness. Meditation and grounding techniques keep you present instead of being in your head.
Think positively. Squash negative thoughts and reframe them. You are prepared, and you've got this!
By acknowledging your fears and practising proven techniques to manage anxiety, you can get your nerves under control. When the big moment comes, you’ll feel ready to deliver an amazing speech.
Preparing Your Speech
Once you’ve addressed the underlying anxiety, it’s time to start preparing your content. Your speech should last 5-7 minutes and hit on these key points:
Funny, sweet anecdotes about your relationship with the groom. The focus is on him.
Well wishes and kind words about the couple’s love and future together. This is about celebrating their love.
Thanking the guests for being there and being part of the couple’s big day. Don’t forget to acknowledge them.
Here are some top tips for crafting a memorable, personalised speech:
Start early. Don’t wait until the week before the wedding! Give yourself at least a month.
Get the groom’s input. Ask what he would like highlighted or avoided.
Research speech ideas online for inspiration. But make it your own words.
Time yourself while practising. Aim for 5-7 minutes max so you don’t ramble.
Personalise with special memories and inside jokes. This shows your genuine connection.
Add just a touch of gentle humour. The couple will appreciate laughs on their big day.
Weave in details about meeting the bride or watching their relationship grow. These personal details make it unique.
End with a heartfelt toast or wish for their future. This is the big finale so make it count!
Follow this advice, and you’ll craft a personal, meaningful speech even if you’re not a professional writer. The important thing is speaking authentically from the heart.
Practising the Speech
You’ve written a killer speech...but now you have to actually get up and deliver it!
Practise makes perfect. Set aside time to rehearse your speech frequently leading up to the big day. Here are some tips:
Practise out loud, while standing, with a timer. This simulates the actual conditions.
Record yourself on video and watch it back. You’ll improve each time.
Practise in front of a mirror to work on eye contact and movement.
Invite friends over for a practice run. Take their feedback to heart.
Slow down your speaking pace. Nerves make us talk too fast!
Work on smooth transitions between anecdotes. Briefly summarise before moving to the next.
Insert strategic pauses for effect after jokes or emotional moments. Let them sink in.
Use notes or notecards, but don’t rely on them. Glance periodically for reference.
The goal is to know your content well while still keeping a natural, conversational tone. Practise enough to feel confident, but avoid memorising it word for word. This will only make you more nervous that you'll slip up.
With frequent practise, you'll internalise the overarching flow and key parts of your speech. On the big day, you can relax knowing you've got this!
This is the moment you’ve been preparing for. Time to get up on that stage and wow the crowd! Here are some pro tips for smooth, anxiety-free delivery:
Have water nearby in case your mouth gets dry from nerves. Take a sip if needed.
Look directly at the bride and groom periodically as you speak. This helps make it more intimate.
Make steady eye contact with guests throughout the room. Don't just stare at one spot.
Project your voice loudly and clearly so guests in the back can hear. But avoid shouting.
Speak slowly and pause between key phrases. Nerves make us talk too fast!
If you mess up, correct quickly and keep going. The guests likely won't even notice.
Pause for laughter or applause after funny anecdotes or sweet remarks. Let the moment land.
If needed, have notecards for reference. But don't read directly off them the whole time.
End with strong, confident eye contact and a smile. You want to stick the landing!
With practise and the right mindset, your delivery will come across polished and professional. Remember, the audience wants to see you succeed up there! Embrace the nerves and power through.
Focusing on the Couple
You may be the one behind the microphone, but the real stars of the show are the bride and groom. Keep the focus on their love story. Weave in these details:
Funny, embarrassing stories about the groom that show your close friendship. (But run them by him first!)
Sweet remarks about when you first met the bride and your initial impressions of her.
Touching memories of when you realised they were falling for each other.
Compliments about what makes each of them so special, and why they complement each other.
Well wishes for their future and marriage. Express how honoured you are to be their best man.
Remarks that highlight their personalities, quirks, or how they connect. Share what makes their bond unique.
The couple and the guests want to see your genuine friendship and feel the love story. Share what comes straight from the heart. Sincerity will shine through.
Positivity and Perspective
You've practised endlessly for this day. But if worst comes to worst and small mistakes happen, avoid dwelling on them. Follow these tips to roll with the punches:
If you stumble over words or lose your place, correct quickly and move forward. Don't spiral.
Take a long pause, breathe, and collect yourself if you need to. Everyone will wait patiently.
Laugh or smile if you trip up. The guests will laugh with you, not at you.
Keep perspective - it's about the overall spirit of your speech. Little mistakes won't ruin it.
Remember guests want to see you succeed up there. They're cheering you on.
With the right mindset, you can recover gracefully if things don't go perfectly. Keep the focus on celebrating the couple, and you can't go wrong.
Giving a best man speech is no easy feat, especially if public speaking is your worst fear. But with smart preparation and practise, you can deliver a heartfelt, memorable speech that steals the show.
Follow these tips to tackle anxiety, craft amazing content, rehearse smoothly, and embrace the moment. When you see the bride and groom beaming with joy, you’ll know all those hours were worth it. This is your time to shine!
Now take a deep breath, strut up to that mic, and knock it out of the park. You've got this!