Jul 21

How to Give a Funny Presentation – A Best Man’s Speech

If you’re interested in learning how to provide a funny presentation, or even your own best man speech, then this post will provide you with a useful analysis of a humorous speech in action. I got asked to have a look at a video clip of former GB & Ireland Toastmasters Speaking Champ Simon Bucknall’s Best Man’s speech. Check out the clip here…

When you do funny best man speeches, or with any kind of social speech or presentation, you have to have an equal balance of humour as well as making any point or message that you want to convey. It’s definitely worth remembering this for your best man speech.

How to Give a Funny Presentation – Laughs Per Minute

From a humorous speech perspective you should aim for an overall Positive Audience Response (PAR) of 45 for every 5 minutes. This means that 15% of each minute should be filled with laughter, which is approximately 9 seconds.

This should give you an indication of what you should be shooting for when it comes to using humour when you do a best man speech or give a presentation. To learn more about PAR scores check out this post on how to learn stand-up comedy.

With regards to this clip, Simon managed to achieve a PAR of 48 which means, technically speaking, he “rocked the sh*t”.

During the first minute he manages to achieve a whopping 29 seconds of laughter, which any headline comedy club comedian would be proud of. It’s obvious from the clip that the audience connection was very strong.

How did he manage to achieve this?

Clearly he knows the Groom very well which you can tell by the nature of the speech as a whole. I would also suspect that he has done his homework and gained an understanding of who is in his audience.

Researching your audience is a damned sight easier in a wedding environment than it is in, say, a comedy club environment. You can find out the age range, the ethnicity, who they are and how well they know the aspects of the Groom that you need to draw attention to.

Simon had already set up that the Groom’s behaviour was similar to that of a child, so the obvious step was to then point out that the Bride worked with children. This would’ve worked even if it was a lie, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as funny. This shows the importance of uncovering the humour latent within a speech.

From that point on he manages to attain between 14-16 seconds of laughter a minute, so comfortably achieving an above average PAR score. This is a good level if you have to do a best man speech.

How to Provide a Funny Presentation – Crisis Management

Something very interesting happens at nearly 6 minutes – Simon’s microphone dies. (Dramatic chord) Dun, dun, durrrrrrrrrrrn.

Now, ordinarily, this would have thrown the average speaker, but Simon isn’t your average speaker. He downs the mic and carries on speaking, using vocal projection. This is something that I would’ve done as well and an option that you need to consider in similar circumstances. As a speaker you have to be adaptable to your circumstances.

If your equipment fails you, what’s your back-up plan? What would you do for your best man speech?

In Simon’s case it may seem fairly obvious to you now that I’ve pointed it out. But what would you do if your laptop dies, or your PowerPoint presentation crashes? Would you end the session early? Or would you be confident and well versed in your material enough to carry on? What’s your “get out of jail free card”?

There was also indication of a letter from an old school teacher. We get teased by its existence when Simon reveals that it’s in his inside jacket pocket, only to be put away again. Personally, I wanted him to bring the letter out and read it to us.

If you make reference to a prop and then don’t fulfil your promise your audience could feel cheated. Like those comedians who say “I’m going to go now” and then proceed to stay for another 5 minutes.

If you have a prop that may assist your presentation and you’ve already made reference to it, bring it out. Even if it’s a fake, like the letter could have been. What would you do if you had to do a best man speech?

It’s not the length of the barrel… it’s the shot of the gun

My other small quibble with this speech is that I feel that it’s a little on the long side. From the research that I’ve done and the wedding speeches I’ve seen speeches in this context work better if they are on the shorter side; somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes. This speech borders 10 minutes and clearly has a little edit towards the end so that it would fits YouTube’s 10 minute limit.

If you’re giving a social speech of this nature, or any presentation for that matter I would lean more towards finishing early. Audience’s love it if they can go to their coffee or lunch break that little bit sooner.

How long is your best man speech or presentation? Is there a way for you to trim it?

Given the nature of funny Best Man speeches the focus, generally, is on ridiculing the Groom. As a result we often don’t get to learn what the Best Man genuinely thinks of his comedy target. I felt that perhaps, in this case, there could have been a little more of an honest opinion about the Groom, more so than just what we gain from Simon’s conclusion.

What’s the ending of your presentation or your best man speech like? Do you adequately summarise or your points and end with a bang? Or do you fade away into mumbles and hope that you don’t get asked any questions?

Laughter, in a speech of this nature, has come to be expected at weddings in Western society, so it is still important that they are there.

A useful point for us all to remember though,  is that while we want to get big laughs during a speech we have to make sure that we are still able to get out point across. Humour is the means by which we deliver our message; it’s not the message in itself. You can certainly see that in this clip.

To learn more about Simon and the workshops that he offers in the U.K., check out his website The Art of Connection.

Wanna discover more about PAR scores and the lessons we, as speakers, can take from stand-up comedy? Wanna add humour to your best man speech? Check out my post that reviews a crucial product learn stand-up comedy.


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  1. Adam

    This is one excellent example of a best man’s speech. The laughter and the comedy was very appropriate. One of the best presentations I’ve ever seen. Great!
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  2. Jason Peck

    Hey Adam,

    It is a very strong example provided by Simon. I’ll make sure he knows.

    Thanks fro dropping by and leaving a comment.


  3. charles

    Excellent work, I like the crocodile and beaver part. I don’t know this guy but when I watch it, it somehow feels I know this people, great connection. Well done, A+

    Signature: Telling stories with right storyboarding presentation together with PowerPoint presentation is like owning a printing press and printing your own currency.
    .-= charles´s last blog ..Home =-.

  4. Jason Peck

    Hi Charles

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, bringing in those verbal challenges was good. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know him, I think it’s all to do with the connection. You feel as though you do.


  5. Angela

    Excellent post. The chap did a great job, making the whole speech easy for listening. The presentation quality was so high that the duration of the speech didn’t really matter. 10 out of 10!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Free Public Speaking Tips on Tuesday’s Webinar =-.

  6. Jason Peck


    Thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean, the presentation quality was high that at first you don’t notice it. The thing is I was lookingat it from the perspective of the audience. Over 10 minutes is quite a long time.

    You have to take into consideration where in the scheme of things your speech appears as well. But having checked out your website I see that you already know that.

    Are people about to eat, have they just eaten? etc.

    However, as you quite rightly point out the length of the presentations does not detract from the high standard of the speech.

    I think that everyone who gives a speech at a wedding should aspire to this, rather than some of the offensive, ramblings that I have frequently seen.


  7. Angela DeFinis

    Such a great blog post! Without a doubt the best I’ve read all week. In fact I re-posted it on my Twitter and LinkedIn group for others to enjoy 🙂 Keep up the fantastic work!


    .-= Angela DeFinis´s last blog ..My Parakeet: A Lesson for Perfect Practice =-.

  8. Lisa Braithwaite

    Jason, I enjoyed this speech, and I agree with you that it was a bit too long. It was engaging and funny, but after a while I still felt my eyes glazing over. Of course, at a wedding, in the moment, the audience is having a fabulous time, probably sipping their champagne and basking in the warm glow of a happy occasion!

    I honestly didn’t miss the prop, but it would have been funnier if he had taken it out, for sure. I agree with your analysis overall (I also would have liked to see a little more sentimentality, and I’m pretty much the least sentimental person I know), and for a champion TM speaker, he doesn’t have any of the stagey and awkward mannerisms that I’ve come to expect from them.

    Simon comes across as natural and genuine, maybe because this is a heartfelt speech about a friend rather than a competition speech.
    .-= Lisa Braithwaite´s last blog ..Payment vs. exposure, part 2 =-.

  9. Jason Peck

    Hi Angela

    Thanks for dropping by and re-posting a link on Twitter.

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean by having a little bit more sentimentality and I’m not sentimental either… I’m English we don’t do it.


  10. Simon Bucknall

    Hi all,
    Fascinating to read thoughts and observations!
    For timing, the speech was after, not before, dinner so people were kicking back with coffee. Is 3-5 mins not rather short for an after-dinner/best man speech? on the the prop, you’re bang on, I feel. had planned to read it out but proved tricky while holding the mic. Lesson learned – leave no stone unturned in the preparation!!

  11. Jason Peck

    Hey Simon

    Thanks for dropping by and clarifying when the speech was given.

    With regards to the timing of a Best Man’s (or other wedding speech) from the research that I’ve done 3-5 mins seems to be the ideal because you have to look at it from the perspective of the average person giving a Best Man’s speech.

    This sort of speaking is a different animal to after dinner speaking, which I’ll address in a moment.

    Remember, Simon, you don’t fit in to the “average person giving a speech category” because you are a multi award-winning speaker who gives keynotes and runs seminars Nationally and Internationally.

    Many people who have to give speeches in social situations like this are not that way inclined. Many feel they just need to “survive” the experience so they can get on with the partying as soon as possible. So 3-5 mins seems to be a good benchmark for them.

    For yourself, who is regularly used to speaking for longer, it would seem constrained. Even making it 10 minutes would probably feel restricted.

    I attended a friends wedding recently and after the Best Man gave his speech, he said to me that I should’ve done it. But the Best Man had known the Groom for 20 years compared to my 4, so in my mind was infinitely more qualified. The role shouldn’t necessarily go to the man with the skills for the job.

    After Dinner Speaking is a different kettle of fish. Again, research suggests a shorter time frame. But that would be for people not used to speaking regularly.

    Sometimes, professional speakers or comedians are hired for their After Dinner services and would be expected to do 45 to 60 mins.

    Just look at the likes of Stephen Fry, Williams Hague or the late Bob Monkhouse.

    And you’re right, leave no stone unturned in your preparation, but allow for freedom and spontaneity. For instance, the big laugh you got right in the beginning you could not have prepared for, but you dealt with the extended laughter brilliantly.

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