Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tips for Giving Great Toasts

I hope you have all had a restful and enjoyable long weekend! I wanted to begin the week by touching on a subject that many often have questions about or feel uncomfortable doing. With wedding season in full swing and special events like graduations and chic parties on the horizon, I asked my party planning writer friend Leslie Blumenstein to share some easy tips and etiquette suggestions on how to give a great toast!

But first, a little bit about Leslie-She is a work at home mom of one busy little guy. She is a regular contributor to PurpleTrail.com, a site dedicated to amazing invitations, photobooks and party planning ideas and has been recently featured on Jackie Fo, Birthday Girl Blog, Craft Monkey, and Little Shindigs. Her love for entertaining has led her to become an expert on budget party planning without sacrificing style. From baby showers to back yard barbecues, she’s done it all – without breaking the bank.

I hope you'll  click on the links  above to see more of her articles.

Here's to You!

Whether it's for a colleague, friend or newlyweds, giving a toast can be a little nerve wracking and intimidating. However, it doesn't have to be difficult task. If you take the time to create a well thought out speech and practice it a little before the actual occasion, you may just get through it without breaking a sweat.

Know Your Audience

If it is a formal event, the toaster should stand and get everyone’s attention and remain standing to deliver the toast. In a less formal setting, signal the toast by just raising or tapping your glass and delivering the toast while seated is appropriate.

What is the age of the crowd? Will they get your references to Doc Martins and flannel shirts or do you need to make your anecdotes more general?

Who is in the crowd? The best toasts are those from the heart tailored to the crowd at hand. A toast to a room full of family would be different than one you’d deliver to a room full of your colleagues. Choose language and use of innuendo accordingly.

Short and Sweet

Research suggests that people's attention spans seem to waver after about 5 minutes. Ideally, you want to time your speech to go no longer than 3 minutes. Remember the goal of a toast is to share a sincere and honest nod to the honoree or happy couple – not to demonstrate your superior storytelling ability. So keep it short and sweet.

Structure your toast like a story. Each toast needs:

A Beginning. Introduce yourself, how you know the person you are toasting, acknowledge that you are happy to be here giving this toast to this person/couple.

A Middle. The middle is where you can really make it your own. Share a famous quote, an anecdotal story, your well wishes etc. This is where knowing your audience will be important. Delivering a toast in a roast type fashion my not always be appropriate. Consider your audience and keep it light. No need to divulge what you and the honoree really did that summer of your sophomore year in college. Be sincere and complimentary at some point in your speech. After all, the point is to honor the person or couple, not embarrass them.

An End. Wrap up your toast with a sincere wish of love or congratulations and invite the audience to raise a glass to the person/people. Bring it full circle.

Practice Makes Better

Be sure to practice your speech before you actually give it. Get familiar with the points you want to hit so that it sounds more natural than rehearsed.

Try giving the speech to yourself in front of the mirror. Practice smiling and regular eye contact.

If it helps you to memorize your speech, write it down. But don't read a speech from paper or note cards when delivering it. The best toasts and speeches are those that create engagement with the audience. Reading from a note card does not create engagement. Make eye contact!

If you really feel you need some kind of written help, write only bullet points on a small card.

Be aware of your posture. Slouching, fidgeting or stuffing your hands in your pockets only makes you look more awkward than you might feel. Take a deep breath and relax.

Be Sincere

If you are toasting at a wedding, you may feel tempted to get your "digs" into the happy couple. Or maybe it's your younger brother's graduation and you can't wait to remind everyone of the time his bathing suit fell off in front his crush in grade school. But remember, this is a significant day for this person. And you've been asked to deliver a toast in their honor. Humor most certainly has its place but it shouldn't override the intent of congratulating and making the person/couple feel special. Choose your stories and words carefully. This is the time to tell them just how proud you are.

It is also wise to be sober for your toast. Nobody wants to listen to the ramblings of an intoxicated speaker.

Whether you are giving a toast as the best man, a father of the bride or as a colleague toasting a fellow team member's promotion, with these tips for giving a great toast; your toast will not soon be forgotten.

Thank you so much Leslie for these valuable and practical tips, and for being my guest blogger today! :)

Did you find these tips helpful? What about you-Have you ever had to give a toast? Are you planning to give one at an upcoming event? OR Maybe you've been the recipient of a super awkward one? As always, we'd love to hear from you!

Have a wonderful week!


  1. Hi Karla! thank you so much for this interview and etiquette tips!!!!

    Ps: yes, thank you is Miranda, I've made an error!!! =)


  2. Great tips, we've all sat through some awful, and at times uncomfortable, toasts. The best toast that I've ever heard was by my brother's sister-in-law at his wedding. She shared the sweet story of how my brother proposed to her sister. It was short, sweet and personal. The perfect toast.

  3. Karla, fabulous info on toasts! They are so dang nervewracking! ( :
    hahha! "several years away from 40" hahahah! Rub it in ... rub it in... ha! Loved your comment today!
    Have a pretty day!

  4. I was just thinking... imagine how exciting your second act will be!

  5. Thanks for sharing your toast story Karen! There were a few long ones at our wedding, I know what you mean. I have them on video too. LOL.

    Mara: I'm glad you liked the tips!

    Kristin, you are too funny, it wasn't intended to rub it in, I promise. I look forward to 40 in fact, there is still so much life after that point. Cheers to you for embracing your 'second act'. :)


  6. like your blog

  7. What a wonderful post! I could sure use some pointers here, I don't speak well in front of an audience, I get hot, my voice starts to get wierd...it's funny :) Hope you have a really wonderful weekend!

  8. Good tips. This is so timely! I have a friend's wedding coming up...and I need to start thinking about this. Thanks!


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