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Do you ever feel a slight wave of nausea when giving a toast at a wedding, birthday party or family gathering? You are not alone. People who don’t give speeches for a living (which is most of us) can feel anxious about speaking in public. Rambling is one of the most common threats for those who are unprepared, and it’s also a really easy to do when you are nervous. Here are some tips that can help you give a truly notable toast.
People generally fall for two major pitfalls when giving a wedding toast: they try to be funny or give a formal toast. Unless you’re a comedian or actor, you may want to steer clear of trying to be someone else when giving your toast. It’s better to follow the old adage that mothers drill into their children’s heads: “be yourself.” Focus on writing a speech that is heartfelt rather than filled with witty zingers. If you feel stumped about what to write, try starting off with a fun anecdotal story about the couple. Avoid bringing up anything that you think would make the happy couple feel uncomfortable. Make your story brief. Long inside stories between you and the couple will come off as boring to the other guests. Follow the traditional order for wedding toasts. If you are the best man, go first. The correct order is best man, groom, bride, father of the bride, father of the groom, mother of the bride and groom’s mother. Wait for the end to give your toast and remember to make it brief.
Major milestones in people’s lives deserve a different kind of a toast than other birthdays. Reflecting on someone’s life changes, such as getting married or having a baby, accomplishments or future plans all make great topics. If you know the name of his or her favorite author, start off the toast with a quote. Quotes are great for an opening line and it shows that you took time to conduct some research. Jokes are always a crowd-pleaser, but use your judgment when you choose them. Some people may be more sensitive about their age than others. You can’t go wrong by keeping the tone joyful and upbeat.
Make the cook or cooks happy by thanking them first. No one wants unhappy cooks at family gatherings. Address anyone who has had to travel for the occasion. Family gatherings are a excellent time to thank people and tell them how much you appreciate them. But they are also perfect for recalling special memories. As long as it’s in good fun, some ribbing lightens the mood to your toast. End your toast with a sentence that sums up the experience or a clever quote like this one from George Burns, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
Giving Your Toast
There are definitely wrong ways to deliver a toast. Wait for a lull in activity before launching into the toast. You don’t want constant interruptions to disrupt the flow. Check to see if everyone has a full glass and is present. Standing up allows you to make eye-contact with other guests, which helps keep their attention and makes the toast more engaging. When giving your toast, speak clearly and slowly. Let your tone reflect the mood. Raise your glass at the end and smile while looking at everyone in the eye. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Toasting special events and occasions takes practice. Luckily, getting that practice can be fun.