How long should a best man speech be?

The length of a wedding speech is as important, if not more, than the content itself.

Get it right and you’ll leave the guests in the sweet spot of having chemistry with you and wanting more. Get it wrong and you’ll find the glasses empty well before you’re anywhere near your toast.

The trick is in the delivery, but there’s a couple of neat rules to keep in mind when you’re trying to hit the perfect length for a wedding speech.

The ideal wedding speech length

If you want to hit the perfect length for a best man speech, this rule is a decent place to start:

  • The ideal length for a best man speech is typically six to eight minutes

Any shorter than six minutes and, no matter how good your delivery is, it might just feel like you’ve left off the topcoat of paint.

Any longer than eight minutes and you’re risking losing the attention of the room. It’s a mistake to assume that charm and content can buy you more time — being capable and comfortable in front of a crowd doesn’t necessarily extend the patience. Trying to sustain quality for that long will only make some of the speech flabby, and your audience will notice that more than you think.

The key timing piece is rehearsal. All sorts of factors will play into how long you actually take on the day — pause breaks, nerves, and having one of the groom’s party stick a 2p in your full glass of wine seconds before your speech (unfortunately true) will all impact your pacing.

Your confidence will be the knowledge of your rehearsal speed — that will keep you on track.

Best man speech, October 2019

The right wedding speech word count

Understanding the relationship between timing and speech length is quite a personal thing, and it’s important to speak how you are comfortable, but as a rough guide the perfect word count for a best man speech is:

  • 150-200 words per minute

Generally speaking, 1,400 words should be plenty to get through the stories and sentiment while ensuring you don’t have a baggy section. But don’t feel wedded (cough) to the word count — it’s a waymarker more than it is advice.

Being succinct is crucial. A good exercise is to rewrite with 200 words fewer — if you can do it and maintain the sentiment, your draft was probably too long.

How long should your wedding speech be?

Having confidence in your word count will allow you to pause for laughs and engage with your audience without the fear of outstaying your welcome or drifting off into unscripted territory because a mate you haven’t seen for years just reminded you about the some light-hearted but unwise events of the groom’s past.

In summary, a good drop zone for your wedding speech length is:

  • c.6-8 minutes in rehearsal
  • c.1,200-1,600 words

Feeling good about your draft? Time to start thinking about how to deliver a great best man speech.

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