power your advice

How to Make a Toast

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!