3 Secrets To Giving A Great Toast

Toasting takes talent
Toasting takes talent

Image Credit: Dani Jace

One of the biggest problems with being a person who has given speeches before is that all too quickly people will start to think of you as “that person who gives speeches”. It really doesn’t matter if you are comfortable doing this or not, the simple fact that everyone knows that you’ve done it before means that if they have a need for someone to give a speech, they are going to come looking for you. Nowhere is this going to be more evident than when it comes time to make a toast.

Got To Know Your Audience

It’s funny that one of the things that we know is critically important when we are giving a speech often does not enter our heads when we are called on to make a toast. That’s a pity because it is just as important here as it is during a formal speech. Ultimately your toast is going to have to match the expectations of the audience that you are addressing.

There are a number of different things that you are going to want to know about the audience that you will be presenting your toast to. These pieces of information can include such things as how old they are, what the relationship between them is, etc. The more that you know about your audience, the easier it is going to be to create a toast that will work for them.

Knowing who your audience will be is the key to not making a mistake when you make your toast. If there is a boss or coworkers in the audience, then you’ll want to stay away from poking fun at the person whom you are toasting’s job. However, if nobody from work is there, then they are fair game. Likewise, you will need to determine if close family members are present in order to determine if making a reference to a personal event that only family know about will go over this audience’s head.

Got To Know Your Agenda

Every toast has an agenda, even if you don’t exactly know what it is. The first part of this agenda is knowing just exactly what is being celebrated. If you are at a wedding or a retirement party this can be obvious, there are many events where a number of different things are all being celebrated at the same time. Your toast can only honor one of these events and so you are going to have to very clearly state which one your toast is focusing on.

Next, your toast needs to identify who you are attempting to honor with the toast. Once again, there can be many different people present and even at a wedding there are two people being celebrated. Just exactly who are you calling out in your toast? You don’t want to confuse your audience so you are going to have to take the time up front in you toast and very clearly identify whom you are toasting.

Finally, what is the point that you are trying to make in your toast? Every toast honors one specific person and you are going to have to be very clear about just exactly who this is. The good news about knowing exactly what you want to say is that it will have a calming influence on you. As all the eyes in the room stare at you, understanding what the main point of your toast is will help you to keep your focus and will allow your mind to stay on subject.

Got To Know Your Ability

Before you open your mouth to give a toast, make sure that you are well aware of what your speaking skill level is. Long before you find yourself placed in a situation where you’ll be asked to give a speech, you are going to want to be searching for opportunities to both practice and hone this toast making skill.

The biggest challenge to your ability is going to be making mistakes. These mistakes can consist of such things as talking too fast. Although this is something that is relatively easy to fix, you first have to know that you are doing it before you can fix it. The way that you are going to discover that you are talking too fast is by having someone give you feedback on your speaking. This is the kind of thing that you’ll be able to use to make better toasts.

The key to delivering a successful toast is to have the self-confidence that you’ll need in order to communicate successfully. The best way to get this self-confidence is to practice giving a toast long before you’ll be called on to do so. Use these practice sessions to get good and then show off your style when the time comes to give a toast.

What All Of This Means For You

The ability to stand up in front of people and talk is a skill that too few people actually have. That’s why if the people who know you learn that you have the ability to give speeches, when they need a speaker there is a good chance that they are going to turn to you. One situation that this will almost certainly happen is when it’s time to give a toast.

The three things that you need to keep in mind when you are asked to give a toast are audience, agenda, and ability. Your toast is going to have to be tailored to meet the needs of the audience that you are part of. Make sure that you have an agenda for your toast that clearly states why you are making the toast. Finally, take your skill level into account when making a toast and don’t overstep what you can do.

Toasts are a great way to bring a group together during a celebration. Being able to effectively deliver a toast is a great way to give the host of the celebration that you are at a complement. Take the time to make sure that you understand the three things that go into delivering a great toast. When your name is called to make a toast, you’ll be ready!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that a toast should be?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it – not every speech that you’ll give will be one that your audience will want to hear. There are times that we are asked to give a speech that will contain bad news for our audience. When this happens, we will need a special set of speaker skills in order to effectively communicate our message in a way that shows sensitivity to our audience. It’s not only how you organize your message, but also how you go about delivering it.