How To Write A Best Woman Speech, By Jonathan Ross

How To Write A Best Woman Speech, By Jonathan Ross

Result! Your best friend has chosen you as their maid of honour AND to speak at their wedding. Problem: public speaking makes you die. Jonathan Ross reveals his essential tips for giving a great wedding speech…

1. It’s not about YOU

‘This is the most important thing to remember. Don’t end up telling some story in which you delivered a magnificent line and they just happened to be there. Unless what you’re showing shows the subject in a very good light, stay away from it.’

2. Keep it clean

‘As a general rule for weddings, imagine you’re on The One Show – if you couldn’t tell it safely there, then avoid it. So no swearing and definitely no sexual adventures.’

3. Keep it positive

‘Don’t refer to exes – or say anything negative like, “It’s a shame we don’t get as much time playing Xbox together as we used to but there you go.”’

4. Don’t shoehorn jokes in

‘I went to a wedding once and the best man made up this story about the groom just to arrive at the punchline. Don’t reinvent someone’s history just to make a joke.’

5. Go for sincerity over laughs

‘This is not an audition for a career in stand-up – so don’t go up there feeling you have to be Michael McIntyre. You’re there for one reason – because they think you’re the best person to talk about them.’

6. Be the underdog

‘Apologise for your nerves. And be self- deprecating. You could say, “I’m thrilled to be here. Of course, it’s mainly because we know Terry’s away in Australia,” but that will only land with the audience if Terry is someone who is of equal or greater status to you. Don’t make a dig at someone who would never have been picked.’

7. If your joke dies, own it

‘If material doesn’t land, I sometimes say, “Obviously I was expecting that to get a bigger laugh. So if you didn’t like that, the rest of the stuff is going to really die.” People will then definitely laugh because it lances the boil that’s been formed. You’re basically saying, “I’m acknowledging you’re not laughing – but I can deal with it.”’

8. Use bullet points on cards

‘When I first started in TV, I thought that the autocue was for wimps – instead I’d handwrite my script out three or four times the night before and learn it as I went. Distill it to bullet points on cards, which act as triggers. Never remember obsessively what you’ve written word for word – capture the spirit of it.’

9. Have a get-out line

‘Write an emergency get-out line in case your mind goes blank, something like, “I’m sorry this was short, it’s a combination of the champagne, the nerve medication I’m on, some travel-sickness pills I took yesterday and, frankly, I’m still recovering from that weekend we had in Amsterdam 10 years ago.”’

10. Leave them wanting more

‘Speeches are like a movie – when you walk out of a film you remember the last few minutes the most. Always have your last line on your card – and a quote is a good thing to end on. Whether it’s from Rocky or Star Wars, it’s relatable and humanising.’

11. Water is your best friend

‘You will have a dry mouth, so drink water, but no swigging from a bottle, no eating, no chewing gum and definitely no vaping.’

Back to Top