(I recently had some people talk to me about the subject of how to give a great wedding toast, and with June being “Wedding Season,” I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this blog post and podcast from November of 2013. Enjoy! ~Dean)
Have you ever been to a wedding or engagement party or celebratory event of some kind, and the moment the toast begins, you cringe and think “oh my god, this is going to be a train wreck”? I have, many times in fact. Given my line of work, I’m probably not the easiest audience to impress when it comes to giving toasts. But I know I’m not alone, because there are two dominant topics of conversation at most weddings: how beautiful the bride looks and the toast, good or bad.
Now, once you are done thinking about how many bad toasts you’ve heard, ask yourself this: do people cringe when they listen to you give a toast? Hmmm… harder question.
So let’s discuss this a bit. Giving a great toast just isn’t that hard, if we keep it super simple. Here are three rules for giving great toasts:
1. Keep it short. And no matter how short you think it is, it is probably longer than it needs to be. If you are worried about remembering everything, and you resort to writing out your speech, we are are already careening towards our train wreck. It’s a TOAST. It’s not a speech. Pick one theme, or a couple of key words, write them down on an index card if you need to, and that’s it! No speeches.
2. Don’t talk about yourself. Don’t talk about how honored you are to be asked to speak. That’s a backhanded way of saying “I’m more important than you, because, look, they asked me to speak tonight!” Try to avoid using the word “I” too much. Make it all about the person or couple you are toasting.
3. Don’t build it around inside jokes that only a few people will get. It’s annoying to most of the room, it is probably embarrassing to the celebrated guest, and if most people don’t get it, then they don’t get your toast, which means there is ZERO point in you being up there in the first place.The point of speaking is to deliver a message and be understood. So don’t speak in code about things most won’t get. Speak to the entire audience, and build your toast around things everyone will get.
That’s it for now. We’ll dive a little more deeply into this topic in the attached podcast.
Good luck, and have a great day!
Dean Brenner is available to speak at your next conference or event. Dean is a practiced and dynamic speaker who draws on his professional and athletic experiences to cover topics like leadership, team building, and persuasive communication to help inspire you to higher achievement. For more info, e-mail us, or visit TheLatimerGroup.com.