The Art Of A Toast

15 Dec

Some men live for this moment, others dread standing solo in front of a captive audience with a raised glass attempting a complicated combination of inspired eloquence and humor. Regardless, at some point in your life – a party, wedding, holiday dinner or New Year’s Eve – your turn to toast will arrive.

For every good toast, we’ve heard heaps of bad ones, so before you take the spotlight unaided, note these suggestions to help you deliver with class and grace:

Prepare. Odds are you’ll know in advance when an occasion requires a toast so don’t wait until the last minute to come up with something. All of us need a little preparation and work to be witty, well spoken, honoring and inspirational all at the same time. Privately practice and time yourself. You’ll feel odd, but better to flesh it out alone than wing it in front of a crowd.

Write it down. Putting words on paper will help you organize your thoughts, weed out bad ideas and remember what you want to say. Your outline should include an introduction of yourself, a sharp or humorous opening, a sincere and personal focal point and a winsome conclusion that appeals to the best in humanity. A note card with cues is fine for an occasional reference, but never read an entire toast.

Keep it short. It’s a toast, not a speech. The length depends on the context, but chances are people are waiting to eat or dance, so highlight the occasion, pay your respect and wrap it up in under two or three minutes. Even if you have a gift for oratory or wit, making a toast longer will rarely make it better. Also, if a few other toasts have proceeded you, adjust to the situation and shorten it.

Don’t be patronizing. A toast is not the same as a roast. Keep it tasteful, mature and suitable for mixed company. If you do tell a story in jest, make sure it concludes without being divisive or degrading. The toast reflects just as much about you as it does who you’re toasting.

Be honest and sincere. Flattery can be insulting, so pay your compliments with heartfelt authenticity. Being clever and witty is encouraged as long you are yourself. Personal anecdotes and remembrances are likely a perspective only you can offer and will make your toast unique.

Customize for the context. Tailor-make your toast for the occasion and be appropriate to the setting. Your content may vary at an office Christmas party, a family wedding, or a guys’ night out for steaks and cigars.

Note your delivery. Your presence and body language communicate nearly as much as your actual words. Be confident, but not arrogant. Stand up straight, look your audience in the eye and speak with a sturdy but not overbearing voice. Also, don’t forget to raise your glass at the end.

All the credit for the above goes to


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