The Perfect Toast

The Perfect Toast

How to Give a Toast

Giving a toast is an honored tradition at special events: weddings, dinners, retirement parties, and more. But when asked to give a toast, many people hesitate - public speaking is one of society's most common phobias, and toasts put the speaker indisputably in the spotlight, if only for a brief moment. With these tips, however, you will learn how to give a toast that is effective, meaningful, and memorable.

How to Give a Toast:

The Occasion

Different people are asked to give toasts at different occasions. Family members may toast an honored birthday guest, parents and attendants toast the bride and groom at both the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception, coworkers toast retiring employees, parents toast graduating children. Many toasts can also be spontaneous, such as a formal dinner on a cruise ship, an intimate romantic dinner, or simply a friendly dinner or party. The type of occasion often dictates the formality of the toast as well as its length and content. A more formal event generally calls for a more sophisticated sentiment, while a casual gathering may prompt a short, spontaneous toast.

Setting Up a Toast

Before a toast, the speaker should always check that other people are prepared - their wine glasses are filled, they are paying attention, and the most prominent people (usually whomever is being toasted) are present. The time-honored tradition of clinking cutlery against the side of the wine glass to gain the group's attention often sets the mood - people know what to expect. At larger events, such as crowded wedding receptions, an MC or host may make an announcement to insure that everyone is aware of the impending toast.

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Add some style and flair with a dramatic toast by severing a champagne bottle while you toast!

The Presentation

When giving a toast, words are only half the ceremony. The entire presentation is part of the toast, and all eyes will be on the speaker. In order to give a toast, follow these initial guidelines:

  • When in a group, stand. This guarantees that everyone can see you and helps your voice carry to the crowd. In small settings30a single table, for example), standing is optional.
  • Clearly enunciate your words without mumbling or rushing.
  • Limit the toast length - a minute or two at most - particularly if there are other people who will make toasts.
  • Do not read from a note card or other prompt - the toast should never be so long that you cannot memorize it.
  • Maintain eye contact. The first and last person you look at should be the individual(s) you are toasting, but always look to the rest of the audience. This shows you are a dynamic, connected speaker.
  • Hold your glass at waist height throughout the toast - this is a visual clue that you are indeed giving a toast rather than a prolonged speech.
  • Do not gesture with your glass. This could create sloshing or spills that would ruin the presentation.
  • Use a clean glass if necessary. Lipstick stains or multiple smudges are easily visible and detract from your message.
  • Raise your glass to eye level at the end of your toast in the direction of the person you are addressing. It is acceptable to move the glass slightly to encompass more than one individual.
  • Avoid clich