Advise from Toastmaster International
Toastmasters International, which over the past 87 years has helped millions of men and women become more confident speakers and leaders, offers tips to help your holiday toasts be heartfelt and memorable.
The most important piece of advice: Be yourself and be sincere.
“Speaking from the heart is the key to a great toast,” says Michael Notaro, president of Toastmasters International. “Consider sharing a personal anecdote or story that moves the audience to deeper reflection.”
Speak in a conversational tone and make eye contact with the audience. Be brief — a toast should last no longer than three minutes — and customize your comments for the occasion. “For instance, share a few words on what makes the holiday or event special to you and others assembled,” says Notaro.
If you are toasting a guest of honor, be sure to focus on that person — and not yourself, says Christine Clapp, a Toastmaster and public-speaking coach. In her article “Celebration Season,” published in the December 2011 issue of the Toastmastermagazine, she says a toast-giver should talk about “how great the person is, and not what that great person means to you or how he or she makes you feel. The former makes the toast about them; the latter makes it about you.”
A few other toasting tips:
- Be prepared. Discuss details with the event organizer. Become acquainted with the room, the audience and your equipment.
- Practice the toast in advance with a friend.
- Use humor, but make it tasteful and appropriate. Don’t say anything that could possibly offend or embarrass anyone present.
- Avoid alcohol until after the toast.
- Stand, lift your filled glass by the stem and say, “I’d like to propose a toast.” Pause to allow guests to shift their attention toward you and lift their glasses. When you start speaking, lower your glass about waist high.
Giving a toast is a chance to put your personal stamp on a special occasion. Your words will be appreciated!
About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org.