Remember the story of Winston Churchill who said he needed to stay at home and work on his extemporaneous remarks for an event he was going to the next day. If you have a suspicion that you might be called on to give a speech, especially if you are the owner of a company, or the head of a division, or the head of an organization, or the sibling of an honoree; be ready to give a toast.
Don’t try to be funny. Comedians hone their material for months. It’s highly unlikely that you are going to hit the ball out of the yard with a funny remark. Don’t even try. Just be yourself and if a funny thing comes out of your mouth, enjoy it along with everyone else.
A toast is the time to thank people and acknowledge good work, hard thinking, dedication, great food, terrific ideas. Everyone loves to be singled out for their achievements. Just be careful to have a list of the people you want to thank so that you don’t overlook anyone.
Tell a story
If you can find a story that relates to what the event is all about start by telling that story. Literally, start with the story…
“I want to tell you a story about…”
Remember that stories don’t have to be exact. You don’t have to tell everything that happened. You don’t need to give us side bar and back story information. Just tell the story then go into your acknowledgements
“I want to thank…”
And then close it up.
If other toasters thanked the host for the great party, you don’t need to do so, as well. Find something else to say that no one has used.
Be sincere, even if it is mushy. If you want to use the toast to thank someone for the impact he made on your life, do so. It will be a great toast.
It’s not about you
Sometimes in toasts I hear the speaker referring to themselves more than the person they are toasting. Try to keep yourself out of the story other than necessary.
Don’t be crude or rude.
Avoid stories where you have to repeat off-color remarks or sordid activities. Keep it clean and keep it on a higher level. I’m a person who can have a pretty foul mouth, but when making a toast, I’m a choir boy.
If you are the host, never force people to make a toast. This is a purely volunteer activity.
Have a close
Have you ever noticed that when someone is giving a toast they get to the end and seem to run out of steam? You raise your glass thinking it’s time to drink when the speaker gets a second wind? Then they seem to be coming to the end again and you raise your glass and they fool you again. Have one ending and get the hell off the stage. You may think of a better one two seconds after you deliver the first, but thems the breaks. Close the toast. Smile. Drink. Leave.
When all else fails…say the following.
“What a great event. Let’s wish our honoree all the best. To Joe! Congratulations. Now let’s enjoy the party!”.