Raise a glass!

Raise a glass!
5 tips for giving toasts

by Catherine Welborn

Warm weather has arrived and with that comes wedding season. With weddings, of course, come toasts. If you’ve been asked to toast the bride and groom, follow these tips to deliver a memorable and endearing message:

  1. Wait your turn. Traditionally the host of the event starts the toasts. However, gone are the days when you could assume that the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s parents and the wedding is hosted by the bride’s. You may find yourself at a wedding hosted by both families—or by the bride and groom. In those cases, it’s best to clarify your place in line before the big day. 
  2. Have a commanding presence. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Hold your glass in your right hand. Speak loudly and slowly. Most important, refrain from drinking alcohol before your toast. Even a practiced public speaker can appear sloppy and tasteless while under the influence.
  3. Make eye contact. Look at the couple and then glance around the room. At the end of your toast, return your eyes to the honorees.
  4. Be personal—but appropriate. Sharing a specific anecdote is a great way to make your toast meaningful, but remember that weddings are family events. Stay away from stories that will make Grandma blush or Aunt Carol cover little Tommy’s ears. And make sure your anecdote is flattering of the couple. Don’t embarrass them by bringing up exes or embarrassing moments from their pasts.
  5. Keep it short and sweet. A good toast need not be longer than two minutes. Best man and maid of honor speeches are the exceptions. Those can last between five and 10 minutes. As a general rule, though, shorter is better. Signal the end of your toast by raising your glass. After guests have clinked their glasses and taken a sip, return to your seat.

Last Month’s Poll Results:

Last month we asked “How have you added humor into your speeches?”

The most popular responses—at 60% each—were “I share funny stories and anecdotes” and “I make fun of myself.” Twenty percent said that you “include jokes and one-liners.”

Subscribe to American Speaker and gain access to a searchable database of one-liners, jokes and funny stories to incorporate in your speeches—in addition to a variety of other resources.

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Delivered each month, American Speaker Forum offers you public-speaking advice and tips for wowing your audience during your next presentation. This resource also offers you a way to ask for feedback on your next speaking engagement and to share your own experience with your colleagues.

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