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Public Speaking

How to Make a Toast

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I was teaching a speech writing workshop in the DC area, and several participants asked for advice on giving a toast.  Here are some tips:

  • Keep notes nearby, so you can refresh your memory in those precious seconds before you begin to speak.  (After all, you’ll never get a second chance to give this toast.  Make sure you don’t forget to say something important.  It’s now or never.)
  • Stand tall, with both feet confidently planted – no rocking from foot to foot, please.  
  • Make strong eye contact with the whole audience initially (so everyone feels included).  Then look directly at the person you’re toasting.
  • Don’t start until everyone is quiet.
  • Don’t mispronounce anyone’s name.  (If you plan to mention the person’s spouse or children, be absolutely certain you’re saying their names correctly.)
  • Don’t confuse your role: You’re giving a toast to honor someone else.  This is not the time to draw attention to yourself or your own achievements.
  • Don’t attempt contrived humor. There’s nothing worse for a speaker than humor that falls flat – especially when it falls flat during a toast. (This embarrasses both the speaker and the person being toasted, as well as the entire cringing audience.)

Enjoy!

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