A formal toast at a gathering does not mean drinking-inspired ditties such as ““Over the lips; Over the gums; Look out stomach; Here it comes!” It should also be more than the “Cheers” (or “Prost” or “Salud” or “Skaal” or . . .) most of use to clink glasses at the bar.
Instead, a toast is an opportunity to honor a guest of honor, for example at birthdays and weddings. Or to highlight the significance of an event, including a thank you to attendees at a fundraiser – and, of course, wishes during a New Year’s Eve celebration.
If you are giving a toast, keep in mind these do’s and don’ts:
- Briefly identify your connection with the honoree or event. Especially at larger gatherings for New Year’s Eve or weddings, guests typically only know a few attendees. You don’t want the guests to spend the entire toast wondering who you are and how you are connected with the honoree.
- Keep it short. You’ll need to get to the point early, be it praise or congratulations or a word of thanks. Everyone is there to gather and enjoy the festivities, not to hear a keynote presentation. Keep it to no longer than three minutes.
- Use a story to illustrate your point. The story can be humorous or sentimental. Keep in mind that these stories should be about the person(s) or event being honored – the focal point of the story should not be you!
- Bring up past stories that can cause embarrassment. It is very likely that there are family members and colleagues at more formal events; being tasteful and appropriate is key. We’ve all witnessed – and cringed at – the fraternity brother that discusses parties and situations involving prior girlfriends.
- Be a stand-up comedian. While some humor in a story about the guest of honor keeps everyone engaged, this is not the time for a series of one-liners.
- Be generic. Attendees can spot disingenuous stories. It is sometimes tempting to pass off an urban legend as your own experience, but with so many of us online, someone will have read it. And at an annual roast, I’ve even heard the same speaker use the same script to roast the guest of honor that he had used the previous year - to roast someone else.
And of course, make sure that you hold off on too many practice toasts before the real thing!
Wishing you a wonderful New Year!
Find out more about clubs in District 4 Toastmasters: http://www.d4tm.org