If you were to guess the most common phobias, what would you pick?

Arachnophobia? Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns? Pediophobia, the fear of dolls? Selachophobia, the fear of sharks? 

These are all powerful fears, but I’d wager that fear of public speaking is one of the most ubiquitous. We’re a social species. Consequently, the prospect of messing up in front of a group of our peers chills many of us to the bone. Enter you, the bestman. The best man’s speech is a pivot. You can laud the lucky groom and leave your audience astounded by your silver-tongued and magniloquent elocution. Or you can stutter, crack a boorish joke that implies the bride is only marrying him for money, and then mumble your way to the conclusion of the oratory trainwreck you called a “best man’s speech.” The choice is yours. Here’s your Ring Cam guide to the best man’s speech, which should hopefully prevent you from embarrassing yourself too much.

1. Practice

Odds are you’ve practiced something in your life. Whether it was free-throws, butterfly stroke, saxophone, or talking to that girl who was way out of league, you did your homework, prepared, and rehearsed. (You probably practiced with the Ring Cam before you asked her to marry you.) Why in God’s name would you not do the same thing for the best man’s speech? This is not your last presentation of undergrad; you actually care about this speech. Two minutes of hastily scribbling bullet points onto a napkin may have done the trick for Comm 150 freshman year. It won’t be enough here. Take the time to practice.

2. Test Run Your Jokes

A funny best man’s speech is a treat to witness. A best man’s speech that attempts to amuse, but falls short is painful to watch. Don’t try to be a comedian if that’s not in your wheelhouse. Feedback is great for the entire speech, but it’s especially pertinent for any jokes you’re trying to crack. What puts you in stitches may bore your audience.

Best man's speech

3. Speak loudly and slowly.

This is public speaking 101. If you cannot master this, the groom seriously made a poor life choice asking you to be his best man. Inversely, speaking too slowly is just as irritating.

4. Tell a story.

This is an easy trick if you’re struggling to find content for your best man’s speech. (There’s only so many dad-jokes one person can tell in five minutes.) Find an anecdotal tale about how enamored the groom was when he first met the bride. Recall how nervous he was preparing for the proposal. You may be sweating bullets about this speech, but telling a story about something you’ve already experienced is a simple way to keep the audience’s attention without trying too hard. However, there are risks with this tactic. Read on.

best man's speech

5. Remember your audience.

This is not the bachelor’s party anymore. Don’t tell a raunchy story in the best man’s speech. I know that this shouldn’t need repeating, but some people have no filter.

6. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Stiff and methodical public speaking rarely hits the mark. You may have written a masterpiece, but you still need to present it genuinely. This is particularly true as the best man. You’re celebrating the love and happiness of one of your best friends. Everyone at this wedding is here to have a great time and celebrate these two. Don’t deliver the speech with the sobriety and sternness of a Puritan sermon. The best way to counteract this is by allaying your fears. Find out what works for you. Maybe it’s a drink, practice, a stress ball, or a deep breath. Do whatever you need to do to be nonchalant and disarming when speaking.