Here’s to You!

June is all about celebrations: weddings, anniversaries, graduations, Father’s Day, even Flag Day. And celebrations often involve giving a toast, an ancient party ritual involving a filled glass and a speech. If you’re the speech-giver this month, we’ve got four key tips to deliver the perfect toast.

Keep it short

Toasts are a brief salute to a person or couple. Keep the speech under five minutes. That’s long enough to convey a few meaningful points about the honoree. Conversely, too short a toast; “Dad, you’re the best.” lacks impact and sincerity.

Make it relevant

Memorable toasts include specific details or stories about the person. At a wedding, you can certainly toss in some clever musings about love and constancy.  You can even quote a few lines of poetry. But the audience also wants to hear how you know and what you know about the happy couple.

Use speaking notes

Create a short outline of your toast, using just a few words on an index card. These key words help you remember your content, so you don’t need to memorize the toast. Just look down silently, see a point on the outline, then raise your eyes to the audience and speak about that point. Repeat until you’ve finished.

Follow protocol

When it’s time for the toast, it’s traditional to stand up. Even at a small gathering, standing adds a nice formality to the occasion. Raise your glass to whomever you’re toasting, and begin your speech by looking at them with a warm smile. Then turn and address the audience. End the toast by looking at the honoree again and saying, “Congratulations” or “Here’s to you!” These traditional endings provide the cue for everyone, including you, to sip from their glass.

Enjoy the start to summer and happy toasting.

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