The business of being a best man
I recently gave my 3rd (yes that’s right #3) best man speech and after hours of practice, preparation and delving through the memory banks to find enough content to deliver a few funny anecdotes and a speech worthy of a good friend, it got me thinking that writing a best man speech is a lot like a new business pitch. It’s all about the story telling.
So here are some top tips for any budding best men, or for that upcoming new business pitch.
1. Don’t lead with facts.
Facts matter and should most likely underpin any speech or pitch however they can also be picked apart. To build a successful story you need to base it on shared values and a common understanding. Think about what the goal is, what your audience want to hear, what you want to get across and build that story and subsequent message around it.
Ultimately a message that tugs on values and humanness is much more likely to be bought into, will be more powerful and will enhance the chances of the wanted outcome.
2. The story isn’t about you.
It is widely known that the good storyteller doesn’t talk about how great he or she happens to be but makes it about someone or something we can relate to.
In a novel, we can relate to good characters because they are like us, or who we’d like to be. It enhances our feelings towards them as they carry values that we want to see rewarded.
Bring this into the work place or the best man speech environment and it is no different. The people sitting on the other side of the table don’t want to hear about you, they want to hear how great the groom is or funny stories from early adulthood, they want to hear about what you know of their product or brand and how you will help them build it further, or perhaps how you will help them further their career.
3. Find your voice.
People expect a personal narrative but the question is how do you find your voice? Do you lead with humour, history or calls to action?
Ultimately there’s a higher level purpose at work here. It’s tougher to wrap a good story around a bad product so the rules are simple:
- Be interesting.
- Tell the truth.
- Live the truth
If you’ve prepared, drafted and edited, you’ll know your stuff and it shouldn’t really be an issue.
4. Be clear on the aim
To take an example from our insight approach, when preparing to deliver a killer story you really need to think about it how you want the audience to THINK, FEEL and ACT.
I have touched on this in the previous points but it is a hugely important part of the journey. If you are clear in your mind about this then the higher the likelihood of the hoped outcome.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering how the speech went. I managed a good few laughs from the audience, a hug from the bride and congratulatory handshakes from the groom, the family and friends and I’ve sat through enough diabolical speeches to know I wasn’t too bad.
Let’s hope our next new business pitch receives the same response!
By James Hirst, Head of Business Development Europe / Professional Best Man