1. Start with something you know – If you start a speech or keynote address (after all the formalities) with something you know and are comfortable with, you have a better likelihood of things going well. Do not start off trying to explain the Pythagorean Theorem (unless that is your expertise) or trying to share a story that is not personal to you. Reason being, you have to “think about it”…and thinking often makes people really nervous. So start with something that does not cause you to have to think a lot. For a best man speech start with a story about a fun time that you had together, a funny moment, or how they told you they were getting married. Starting with what you know may relieve a bit of nervousness.
2. When sharing something personal don’t make it too personal – What I mean by this is do not share something that is an inside joke between you and two people in a room of 200, you will get blank stares and awkward looks. The other two people will chuckle, but that will not be enough. You will feel even more pressure and that will make you more uncomfortable. As far as information that is “too personal” or “Too Much Information (TMI)” I will leave that for you to decide, but the venue should denote how much of anything you should share…I’ll leave that alone.
3. Notes (note cards) can be helpful or harmful – This is a tricky one. When I have to give remarks, comments, or reflections, I usually have a piece of paper with 2 or 3 topics or phrases; the rest is sort of impromptu. So again, venue will dictate what you should or should not do. But having 2-4 typed pages for a best man speech is totally unacceptable. For short speeches or remarks (3-5 minutes) I usually do not use notes or note cards, anything longer than that, I have notes. This point may not be helpful, but take it with a grain of salt.
4. Just stop talking – If you ever find yourself lost in your notes, confused in your thoughts, either take a minute to pause, or if appropriate just end the speech…do not continue to ramble on and on. Again, those listening did not know what you were going to say, so take a minute compose yourself and start again. The worst thing you can do is continue to babble…
5. Have Fun – This is easier said than done, but instead of looking at it as going to the dentist for a root canal, see it as a moment to share a bit of your personality, your thoughts and your considerations. You have a captive audience, and you are sort of like a puppet master. You have the ability to make them laugh, be contemplative, or even riot (depending on the scenario). So when you get up to make that best man speech, smile (a smile changes everything), start off with a short story, interject a little humor if appropriate, and then offer a toast – to long life, God’s great blessings, and a wonderful marriage. See how easy that was…..