A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Man Speech

Write and deliver an awesome best man speech with this foolproof advice.

Congrats—you're the best man! It's a pretty good feeling when one of your friends or relatives asks you to be their right hand for the wedding. But lurking beyond all the fun harmless stuff—planning an epic bachelor party and crushing the dance floor, to name a couple—is your final, and arguably most meaningful, duty: the best man speech.

When it comes to public speaking, about 10 percent of the population loves it, and about 10 percent is deathly afraid of it. No matter which camp you fall into, you can always boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by preparing well.

1. Plan way ahead.

The first tip in our guide on how to write a best man speech is to plan far in advance. Do not procrastinate. "Start writing a best man speech at least two months before the wedding," Bliss says. "As the wedding nears, there are lots of events—suit fittings and a coed shower, perhaps—that could distract you from getting your writing done."

2. Grab their attention.

"Kick off with a killer opening line," Bliss says. Get everyone's attention and set the mood by starting your speech off with a great one-liner.

3. Be strategic about your jokes.

Make jokes about the groom, but leave his new spouse alone. Bliss says to keep any teasing focused on your buddy, whom we're guessing you're closer to.

4. Practice—with an audience.

This tip is a must when it comes to how to write a best man speech. Even if you think you have this whole thing in the bag, practice delivering your speech out loud at least three times. Whip out your phone, take a video and watch the playback to get a feel for how it's going. (Do you say "um" between every sentence? Are your gestures a little robotic?) "Or send it to a close friend who won't be going to the wedding and who can give you honest feedback," Bliss says.

5. Write it down.

Memorizing is fine if you have a great memory, but you'll feel a lot more confident if you have a written speech—or at least a few bullet points to keep you on track. Nerves can mess with your memory, so don't think you're a failure if you have to bring notes up there with you. Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper, since they "won't flap around." Nowadays, many groomsmen will even read off their cell phone screens out of convenience.

6. Add variety.

"Vary the pace and tone of your best man speech," Bliss says. You know those movies that make you laugh, and then make you cry, or have action and romance? Aim for that in your best man speech. Variety will keep your speech interesting and strike the emotional chords of your audience.

7. Don't mumble.

"Enunciate your words loudly and clearly," Bliss says. A great best man speech becomes boring if it's delivered monotone, and it's nonexistent if everyone is straining to hear you. Speak confidently and slowly—otherwise all that speech practice will be for nothing!

8. Have a backup plan.

"If you feel your speech flagging, you can always turn the attention toward the couple and announce cheerfully, 'Aren't they a gorgeous couple?!' This will always get a cheer from your audience," Bliss says.

How to Write a Best Man Speech

Writer's block is no excuse for not starting a best man speech. All you've got to do is follow the below best man speech outline, which Bliss says is a pretty tried-and-true template for getting started. Obviously, you don't need to include all of these elements in your speech; instead, customize it to fit the couple, the event and your relationship with the groom. Take out any pieces that don't quite work, then fill in the details.

Best Man Speech Outline

We're guessing the thought of crafting a flawless best man toast from scratch feels pretty overwhelming right about now. Start by drafting a bare-bones outline (trust us, drawing up a rough outline is way more palatable than the thought of writing a fully fleshed-out speech). Here's a great best man speech template to follow.

Have a killer opening line.

Thank the other speakers.

Congratulate the newlyweds.

Say a few nice words about your friend's new spouse.

Make a joke about the groom.

Read messages from guests who couldn't make it, if there are any.