I’m finding these quite fun as well as interesting to research. A couple of years ago I wrote a similar article on dating profiles. More recently I wrote a similar article on job descriptions. Now I’m delving back into the realm of the personal with how to write a best man’s speech.I gave one at the weekend. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written but it did seem to go down a treat. I received many handshakes from strangers about how great they thought it was (aww shucks, guys!) I think I used some good content writing tactics, some of which are relevant in my professional work even if some of the items in the following list may seem tentative. Let me try to break this down for you…
Remember: It’s Not About You
The worst types of marketing campaigns, business blogs and outreach programmes are those that indulge in self-congratulation. It’s a common mistake so readily made. Any business that can’t even get this right will quickly lose any audience it has – and so will a best man. Who cares about your growth? Maybe your shareholders do but your customers don’t. They just want a good product. The same applies to your best man’s speech’s audience – they just want to be entertained, made to laugh and think happy thoughts about the subject of the article (the couple). By all means, talk about yourself when appropriate, but always frame it for relevance to the subject of the speech.
Keep it Tight
Brevity, brevity, brevity. Don’t drone on. Yours is not the only speech today. Nor should you drone on in your content marketing. Your audience will look elsewhere for the information they seek and that means they most certainly won’t buy your product! My speech came in at 600 words. Ideally, you don’t want to be going above that. Conveniently, that’s the optimum length for a marketing blog post too. One thing most people won’t do is edit their speech. It should flow well and feel organic – just like a blog post. The more you edit, the more your speech will flow and the better your content will be received.
In any piece of writing, you need to grab your audience’s attention immediately. If you don’t you’ll lose them before you have even got going. That even applies to the largely forgiving (and slightly drunk) audience at a wedding. It’s rare that a best man is a writer; I felt I had at least one advantage there but most people are not natural wordsmiths or speakers. I grabbed the audience with a hook. In this case, a witty anecdote about how the groom and I met and followed that up with a misdirection that drew a big laugh. Humour is not the only tactic to use, but a deft bit of (appropriate) misdirection can make it all memorable. Oh and timing is everything for the hook.
Sign Off in Style
I would suggest writing your end before you think about writing the body of the speech. That way, you have pathways to feed into it. As I opened with a joke and a misdirection, so too I ended with a snappy one-liner just before I proposed my toast (the toast being the call to action). The sign off should not trail off, but be a clear and definite ending – just as you need with content marketing. Think of your toast as the Call To Action. Therefore, the final few paragraphs of your speech should build anticipation and excitement. The sign off is the area with the most in common with content marketing.
Be Creative and Enjoy It
Not everybody has that creative edge but most people know what sort of speech or marketing campaign that appeals to them personally. Best man speeches fail when the best man takes himself, the subject or the speech too seriously. Similarly, some marketing campaigns fail for the same reason. Have fun, know your audience and reach out in an appropriate way.