Celebrated big brained Greek philosopher Plato once said “The beginning is the most important part of the work”. Although it’s pretty likely he wasn’t talking about a Best Man speech at the time, like many things he said, it makes a lot of sense.
Statistically speaking you’ll never have more of your audience’s attention than at the very beginning of your speech and so it’s important to get this part right. You want to make an impression right from the off, don’t you? Get the audience on side and eager to hear what pearls of wit, wisdom and raw emotion you’ve got in store for them. So, what’s the best way to start a best man speech?
These three things will help…
1. Good Opening Line
So the first thing you need is a solid opening line or two, the purpose of which is to break the ice with the audience and get them onside. Typically this is done with a light hearted gag, which is often made at someone’s expense, either your own, or the groom’s.
There’s no hard and fast rules here but my recommendation would be to judge it based on your relationship with the audience. If you don’t know too many people present, then a self-deprecating joke about yourself is always a good way to get the audience onside as it creates a positive emotion of empathy. If you go for the groom too early, without establishing your credentials, there is a higher risk that one or two will feel defensive about the groom which gets you off on the wrong foot. On the other hand, should you know most people there, you’ve got permission to make a joke about the groom off the bat and get you some early belly laughs.
Of course the next question is where do you get these hilarious gags? We have a cheat sheet in our blog post on Best Man Speech One Liners.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
It’s one thing to have a good opening line in the written format, but can sometimes be quite another to deliver confidently. To give yourself the best chance of success on delivery, practice by saying it out loud. The out loud part is particularly important. Surprisingly, things can sound different when spoken than they do in our mind alone. The pronunciation of words is easier to say in our internal voice than our external, whilst word combinations that look fine on paper, can actually turn out to be tongue twisters in practice.
Practice will help you find your rhythm which in turn will give you confidence. And when you’re feeling more confident the delivery will be much more polished. Needless to say this same principle applies to the rest of your best man speech, not just the opening line.
3. The Power of the Pause at the Start
The third and final tip I would give you to make sure you start your best man speech well is to briefly pause at the start. Pausing before you choose to speak not only demonstrates confidence, it focuses the audience’s attention even further on what you are about to say. This part is almost like a game, the longer your silent, the more attentive become. Watch as they almost lean in to hear you – it’s a strange phenomenon.
Get Your Best Man Speech Guide
If you’d like more advice then download our comprehensive 28-page guide to Best Man speeches including:
- How to structure your speech
- How to write a speech that’s memorable for all the right reasons
- How to actually deliver the speech (very important this part, don’t skip)
- And lastly… how to know if it’s actually any good