Here is a quick nod to the Every Swell Man should Learn series, and this is something that can show how swell you really are to those around you. There comes a moment in many mens life where he is asked to toast another; whether it be a celebration of a career advancement, a retirement, a birth, or marriage, you should be ready to shower your mate with praise. There are a few simple tasks to composing and delivering the perfect toast. Not all of us are public speakers, and delivering a toast in a crowd can be daunting, so I will give some tips to quell those fears as well.
Typically when you are going to give a toast you have some advance notice, so use the time to prepare. Write some notes of what you want to say on some index cards, these are easy to organize and easy to carry. I recommend breaking your toast up into segments and writing the first sentence or theme of each on a card, don’t write out the entire toast or you will end up reading it and it will become hollow sounding. Unless you have to for some reason, you shouldnt read your toast word for word you want to engage with your audience and your toastee, and reading will impede that.
Once you’ve written your notes you should practice a bit. You shouldn’t be reciting your toast for the first time as you are delivering it. You want to at least hear how it is going to flow and have some idea of the timing. Speaking of timing, keep in mind this is a toast and not a speech, you want enough content to have some substance, but don’t be long-winded to the detriment of your audience.
I find when you’re giving your toast the best way to begin is with some humor. Use a funny story that relates to whom you are toasting or an inside joke between the two of you. This will break the ice with your audience and put you at ease, it’s hard to be nervous when you are laughing. Remember this, don’t use a story that is too embarrassing or a joke that is too “inside” or it will be awkward for who you are toasting, and you could wind up leaving your audience out of the joke.
Remember who your toasting, and that it’s about them. Obviously you aren’t going to go in front of the crowd and jus talk about yourself, and if you are thinking that, don’t do it, this is their day. Also remembering this means that even though you’re giving the toast the spotlight is still on them, and this should help calm your nerves as well. During your delivery acknowledge whom your toasting make them feel that it is about them, and be sincere, now is not the time for snark or sarcasm, be genuine in what you are saying.
Dont be afraid of making a mistake, its your toast and no one else knows how it is supposed to go. If you are being sincere you might make a mistake, sometimes those mistakes fit better than what you were going to say. Also when you are delivering your toast don’t hide emotions. You are telling an intimate friend how you feel about them, wishing them success and blessings, and reminiscing on your pasts together it is perfectly natural to get choked up a bit. There is nothing wrong with choking up when you are honoring your compatriot who has been through a lot with you.
This is usually the hardest part of the toast. How do you end it, you don’t want to ramble or trail off, you don’t want to end abruptly and walk off. When your thoughts have finished and you are close to running out of things you planned to say, then turn the attention back to them, congratulate your friend again thank them for sharing their day with you, raise your glass to them and I find it nice to finish with a traditional blessing or a verse appropriate to the situation. It ends on a nice positive note, and you don’t have to come up with some way for yourself to escape, the course has naturally been run.
So, here’s to you my dear readers:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
And always remember to keep your toasts swell.
(images courtesy of: elitedaily.com,rogerwilkerson.com, esquire.com,virulentwordofmouse.com)