Surrounded by your friends and family, everyone has just nestled in to the table that’s festively decorated. Your heart is beaming with pride and gratitude and you want to share this feeling with those around you. So, you decide to give a toast!
Does the thought of giving a toast this holiday season give you butterflies? In this blog, I’ll share some toasting tips and teach you an easy toast structure you can use to plan your toast and put those butterflies at ease.
Toasts are a special kind of speech where you get to express your gratitude and admiration to your loved ones, work colleagues, and friends. They can be done anytime, but are usually saved for special occasions like a holiday party or wedding.
You want to draw attention to the occasion and reflect on the past. Your toast should be original to the occasion, i.e. don’t recycle your toasts at both of your brothers’ weddings ;-). You want to use specific stories, successes, examples, or other details to express your feelings. This is the time to get mushy and lovey. A word of caution-- if you do not naturally use humor when you speak, don’t try to plan jokes in your toast. Stick to the mushy stuff.
You can sketch out what you want to say, and even practice; but, don’t feel like you are bound to say only what you have listed on your paper. This is the time to share whatever comes to mind in the moment. Even though, I’ve outlined a structure you can use below, the main thing is to be in the moment and let your words flow from you. It’s okay if you stumble a bit or forget a story you had planned to share. You are sharing your presence and emotions and that’s what is important for a toast.
Toasts shouldn’t be more than a few minutes long as you want to share it before people begin eating at the event. Be sure to get everyone’s attention by clinking your glass and have an opening line like, “Before we sit down for dinner, I want to take a moment to honor our successes this year.” If you find yourself rambling, you can call attention to it with a line like, “Obviously, we have so much to be thankful for this year and I could keep sharing. I’ll wrap this up so we can eat by expressing my gratitude one more time for each and everyone of you. Cheers!”
How to write a Toast
Step 1: Pick a theme
You want to have a central point, or theme that you return to time and again in your speech. I like to pick an emotion or word that encapsulates the feeling of the occasion and what I want to share with my audience. Some classic toast themes are gratitude, prosperity, happiness, adoration, generosity, joviality, peace, and the gift of friends and family.
Step 2: Choose a few stories to share
Now, that you have a general theme, you can pick a few stories about the past year or longer to share with you audience. Think about what you audience would like to hear from you.What are you uniquely able to share at the event?
You can also share your hopes and dreams for the future after you reflect on the past.
One note of caution-- Toasts are not the time to share individual inside jokes that only a few people in the audience would understand. They will be confusing and distracting for the majority of the audience and give the room a weird vibe.
Step 3: Structure your speech
You have your theme, you have some stories that highlight your theme and now you just need an easy to follow structure.
Get everyone’s attention: Raise your glass, clink it with a knife, announce loudly you are going to toast.
Draw attention to the occasion in which you are all gathered.
End with something memorable
Toast to all in the room with a final phrase like, “Let’s raise a glass to the New Year.”
Step 4: Speak from your heart
Express genuine emotion and let the words flow through you. Make eye contact with as many people as possible. Speak conversationally. Don’t stress about not following the structure above or sharing a different story than you had planned. It’s the feeling you want to communicate.
As you can see, delivering a toast doesn't have to a nerve-wrecking experience. I wish you all the best this holiday season and into 2020!
Are you planning a toast this holiday season?