When was the last time you heard a toast that actually made you pause mid-selfie and feel like getting off your seat to clink glasses? Having to endure a pointless, eye-roll-inducing, and meandering toast is reason enough to have most of us (teetotallers included) reaching for a glass of something to numb our minds.
The last toast I sat through was a rambling speech which did not even conclude in a toast. Half-sitting, half-standing, guests with awkwardly poised glasses looked at each other confusedly while the toast-giver resumed his seat. He returned to the lectern red-faced after someone pointed out the lack of a toast. Don’t be that guy (especially if you’re the father of the bride).
Let’s break this down:
- First, a toast is a brief speech. By definition, it is the act of raising glasses to honour someone or something. That is the most important concept around which your toast needs to centre. Remember that your goal is to promote a sense of unity, community, and camaraderie among members of the audience.
- Be sensible about delivery and timing. If yours is one in a long line-up of toasts, keep it extra short. ‘Short’ is three minutes (at most). If yours is the only toast, stick to between five and seven minutes.
- Every speech has a distinct structure: An introduction, a body / major section, and a conclusion. Do not panic if you need to give an impromptu toast. Spend that time planning. You will realise that you have plenty to say. Jot down a few notes if you must. Remember that you know enough about what or whom you are toasting.
- When delivering a toast at a special event, understand what the requirements are. Enquire about how stringently the hosts / organisers want you to adhere to the order of proceedings.
- Give guests time to charge their glasses and proceed with the toast only when you see that people are prepared (children and teetotallers included). Hint: You can pause for a breather. Use the time to plan. Don’t prolong the pause, though.
- Be genuine, both in your toast and vote of thanks. Keep all comments, anecdotes, and jokes clean and audience appropriate.
- If you realise that you are fumbling and are running out of things to say, save yourself (and everyone else) a lot of embarrassment and end your toast. Anxiety makes people say things they shouldn’t. If nerves get the better of you, err on the side of caution.
- End the toast effectively and appropriately. Cheers, Salut, and to ______, are some examples.
Being asked to raise a toast is one of the greatest honours. Take your task seriously and deliver the toast with the dignity, respect, and sense of the occasion called for.
While you’re here:
- Bookmark this post for reference.
- Share this post with someone you want to deliver a sterling toast.
Here’s to you and your next toast!