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 saw everyone present having to listen to 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:
- Firstly, 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 you know that yours is one in a long line-up of toasts, keep yours extra short (three minutes at most) and to the point. If yours will be the only toast, stick to between five and seven minutes to give yourself enough time to honour the people or event and to present a vote of thanks.
- Every speech has a distinct structure: An introduction, a body / main section, and a conclusion. Do not panic if you are due to give a toast with only minutes to spare. Spend that time planning and you will realise that you have plenty to say.
- You can jot down a few notes if you really have to but try to do without them – remember that you know enough about what or whom you are toasting or you wouldn’t have been asked.
- If you are asked to give a toast at a special event, understand what the requirements are, and 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 have had ample opportunity to prepare (children and teetotallers included). Hint: You can pause for a breather and plan what you are going to say next – just don’t prolong the pause.
- Be sincere and genuine both in your toast and the 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 tends to make people say things they shouldn’t, so if you feel your nerves getting 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 you will be bestowed with. Take your task seriously and deliver the toast with the dignity, respect, and sense of the occasion that is called for.
Before you go:
- Bookmark this page for future use.
- Send the link to your friend who has a toast coming up.
- Share it with friends, colleagues, and family members to increase the chances of someone in your life giving you an awesome toast.
- Contact me if you need a speech written, vetted, or spruced up!
Here’s to you and your next toast!