What’s The Best Way To Deliver A Roast?

A roast is designed to celebrate the person who is being honored
A roast is designed to celebrate the person who is being honored
Image Credit: Mikko Koponen

In the world of public speaking, there are a number of different types of speeches that we can give. One of the most difficult speeches is called the roast. Just in case you’ve never given a roast before, a roast is intended to both honor and gently tease the guest of honor in front of his coworkers, family, and friends.
All too often what speakers forget is that a roast is not done to punish the person being roasted, but rather to honor them and pay tribute to them. The problem is that many roasts are not done very well and end up leaving the person being roasted feeling bad. What’s the right way to do a roast?

How To Give A Roast

So what makes a roast a good roast? A well done roast uses the importance of public speaking to celebrate the style, the work, the personality, and the things that makes them unique of the person being honored. Additionally, when you deliver a roast, you want to do it with love so that the person that you are roasting knows that you care. The one thing that you don’t want to do when you are roasting someone is to be mean. This means that you don’t want to make up stories about things that they have done that have no basis in fact. It can be all too easy to slide into using raw language, taking on a mean tone, or just doing away with the humor all together. Additionally, you don’t want to get your facts wrong or you’ll lose all credibility with your audience.

So what’s the right thing to do when you’ve been asked to roast someone? The answer is pretty simple – do your homework. What this means for you is that you are going to have to make the time to find out more about the person who will be honored. A great deal of what you are going to want to be collecting will be biographical information on the person. This will include where he or she was born, where they grew up and went to school, and what companies they have worked for. You’ll want to discover if they’ve ever won any awards. In order to round out your view of the person, you’ll need to discover if they have any hobbies or if they are involved in any projects outside of work.

Once you’ve collected the information on the person that you’ll be roasting, you are now faced with the challenge of trying to pull it all together. One of the best ways to go about doing this is to create some sort of diagram that will allow you to lay all of your information out. Once you’ve created a diagram, you need to show it to people who know the person who is going to be honored. This can include coworkers, friends, and family in order to all them to share with you what they know about the person. Make sure that you look the guest of honor up on the internet and check out their Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and any other social media networks that they might use. Your goal with all of this information is to look for connections – are their any themes that run through all of this person’s activities?

What Makes A Roast Successful?

One of the most important aspects of any roast that you give is that you have to be original. What this means for you is that you’ll have to avoid any of the easy-to-go-to cliches. Using generic humor during a roast simply shows your audience that you are lazy. You don’t want to do this – take the time to customize your humor for the person who is being roasted. The humor that you use during a roast has to be the best kind. It needs to be warm, gentle, positive, and it has to come with a universal appeal for your audience. It is permitted to both tease the person being honored and to make fun of them, but you always have to let them know that you respect them.

The best roasts are the ones where the speaker is able to find a way to strike a balance between two things: humor and praise. The humor that you use should always be a form of gentle humor. In order to be able to give a good roast, you are going to have to take the time to practice it. During your practice you are going to want to work on the timing of your speech, where you pause during the delivery, and if there is a need to stop what you are saying in order to give your audience a chance to laugh at what you’ve said. Your goal is going to be to keep your roast short and so you are going to want to make sure that every word that you say has meaning for your audience.

When you are asked to give a roast, you want to do a good job. You can make this happen by taking the time to create your best material, delivering it, and then sitting back down. As roasters, we need to understand that the event is not about us – it’s all about the person who is being honored. As a speaker, your goals need to not be to speak the longest, but rather to generate laughter when you are speaking. When giving a roast, you always want to end well. This means that you’ll want to wrap-up your presentation with sincere appreciation for the person being honored. Make sure that you know when you are done talking, and then stop. Your goal is to celebrate the person that is being roasted and not draw attention to you. Always end a toast with love.

What All Of This Means For You

There are many different types of speeches that we may be called on to give. One of the most difficult types is the roast. During a roast, we are being asked to use the benefits of public speaking to poke fun at the person who is being honored while at the same time showing them appreciation for all that they have accomplished. This can be a real challenge for any speaker.

A good roast celebrates the person who is being honored. When you are giving a roast, you want to show the person that you care about them. What you don’t want to do is to come across as being mean. This means no made up stories or use of raw language. In order to do a good job of giving a roast, you have to start out by collecting all of the information that can about the person that the roast is for. Once you have this information, you then need to organize it and show it to people who know the guest of honor in order to get more information about them. When giving a roast you have to be original – you can’t use any recycled information. You need to use gentle humor to make fun of the person being honored while at the same time showering them with praise. As speakers, we need to understand that a roast is not all about us. We need to make our roast concise, get up there, deliver it, and then sit back down.

When you agree to be a public speaker, you agree to give all types of speeches. A roast is one such speech. No, giving a roast is not an easy thing to do. If you are not careful and you become too mean or you tell stories about the person being honored that don’t cause your audience to laugh, then you will have done more damage than good. However, if you take your time and do your homework, then you can create a roast that will both make your audience laugh while at the same time praising the person of honor.

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

Question For You: How long do you think that a roast speech 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

So the question is do you want to become a better public speaker? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then the next question has to be “how?” I turns out that there are a lot of different answers to this question and some of them work, and some don’t. Through trial and error and experimentation, what has been found to work is for public speakers to engage in some improv. It turns out that spending your time doing this is a great way to engage in exercises that will boost your spontaneity and allow you to hone your communication skills.

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