Tip #1: Breath Easy
Public-speaking anxiety is very real. According to men’s wellness brand Hims, 75% suffer from it and 63% say the scariest thing about being a best man is making the speech. If you’re terrified about giving the speech, it’s going to show. Kate Walker Miles, a tutor at RADA Business who delivers impact and presenting skills suggests to "take a few minutes to find a quiet spot before your speech. Turn your head slowly from side to side. Squeeze your shoulders up to your ears and then let them drop. Roll your shoulders back to release more tension then shake out your arms and legs. By releasing the tensions in the body, you release the tension in the mind." Vernon Thompson, head of voice and speech at City Lit also has some advice: “Don’t forget to breath. We forget to breathe at the times we most need to. While the audience is clapping you as you get to your feet, inhale deeply through the nose and then allow the air to leave your body through an open mouth over at least ten seconds. You will immediately feel more relaxed.”
Tip #2: Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
Preparation is key to quelling public-speaking anxiety. When it comes to a best man speech, there’s no substitute for starting early. Even if you don’t start actually writing the speech until a week or two before, you should already have been thinking about the structure and deciding which stories to include. Like any good story, your speech should have a beginning, a middle and an end. “Use postcards to give your speech structure,” suggests Vernon. “Ideally, you can discard one when you have used the idea or topic. Just remember to number them in case you drop them.”
Tip #3: Practice Makes Perfect
Above all, practise – not just in the mirror, but also to a friend who can give you honest feedback. The surest way to overcome any nerves is to rehearse your speech in the lead up to the big day. When it comes to delivering the speech "plant your feet firmly on the ground and stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with unlocked knees" advises Kate. "Having a firm base to operate from will calm you and enable you to deliver your speech from a place of ease. Above all, remember to pause after each sentence to give the audience some time to think about what you've shared."
Tip #4: Don’t Drink Too Much
On the day of the wedding, you may be tempted to calm your nerves with a drink or two. One drink is fine, but one drink too many and you may find yourself rambling or – worse – slurring your words. The last thing you want to do is accidentally end up saying something you’ll regret.
Tip #5: Set The Stage
Hims has found that 35% of best men are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Give the audience a quick introduction to yourself and your friendship with the groom, but then move on to a heart-warming story about the couple. Remember that every guest has a different relationship to the bride or groom; it’s your job to deliver a speech that entertains the entire audience. “Have anchors in the room,” says Vernon. “Pick a person on each side of the room and let your eyes sweep over those between them. This gives the sense of involving everyone. Picking out one person in front of you to stare at is intimidating for them and as bad as not looking up at all.”
Tip #6: Lighten The Mood With A Joke
Nothing lightens the mood like a good laugh. A joke or a funny story is a perfect way to draw your speech to a close. If you’ve just shared an emotional story, a good joke will help bring things back around. It’s okay to poke a little fun at the groom, but remember he will have family in the audience and some stories are best kept between friends.
Tip #7: Call For A Toast To The Happy Couple
No best man speech would be complete without a toast to the happy couple. After all, they’re the reason all of you are there. Raise a glass to the health and happiness of your friend and his new partner, inviting the rest of the crowd to join you in toasting to their commitment and their future. At the end of the day, all you want is for your friend and his partner to be happy. You should be honored to be chosen to play a role in making their special day one to remember. Even if you’re nervous, you can take heart in the fact that the whole thing will be over in a matter of minutes and then you’ll be able to get back to the celebration (and maybe have that second drink).