A toast, like any public speaking event is your opportunity to say some nice words about someone special in front of family, friends, acquaintances or business associates; you do not want to put your foot in your mouth! A toast like any speech has a beginning, middle and end and should run about two minutes in length. Any shorter might seem insincere and any longer will bore the audience into a hazy-eyed stupor.
First, consider the occasion for the toast and who the audience will be. Is this a wedding, bachelor party, or business meeting? Make your comments appropriate to what your audience would expect; personal or funny stories may be appropriate for weddings where achievement would be suitable for a business gathering. Your comments should be personal, special and succinct. You want to focus on what makes this person or persons special to the group without going into specific detailed explanations.
What is the mood for the event? If it is a formal dinner, you may need to keep humor out but use humor when the event is a bachelor party or roast. Be sincere and complementary to the honoree or honorees since the event revolves around him, her or them.
Preparation is crucial! Make sure you write down exactly what you want to say and then practice, practice, practice! You should be able to get to the point of making your toast without referring to your notes. When you practice, stand in front of a mirror and see what you are saying and how you are saying it. When it comes time to make the actual speech, standing will feel comfortable to you since you have practiced this way and allow you to project to the furthest member of the audience.
On the day of the toast make a mental note as to whether the guests have their wine or champagne glasses filled. You may need to encourage the wait staff to fill glasses before you begin. Make sure everyone is seated and no one has left the table. Take a few deep breaths and gather your composure before you start.
To get everyone’s attention stand up and look at the audience directly. If the wait staff has filled glasses, then the guests will know you are ready to begin. Do not clink your glass with a utensil to gain attention. Once the room has quieted, you may begin your toast. Make sure you are holding a glass of wine, champagne or something that resembles either of these. Speak slowly and deliberately; and look at the honoree. Have several accomplices in the audience you can look at through the toast to give the impression you are speaking to everyone in the group.
Once you have concluded your speech, raise your glass and ask the crowd to raise theirs to the honoree. Sip your beverage and do not down the entire glass in one gulp.
Finally never give a toast if you are drunk. There is nothing more foolish than listening to an inebriated person trying to say something profound.