In 1924, Ralph C. Smedley held the first meeting of what would eventually become Toastmasters International, created to train young men in “the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings.” In those days, the word “toastmaster” referred to a person who proposed the toasts and introduced the speakers at a banquet. Smedley named his group “The Toastmasters Club” because he thought it evoked a pleasant, social atmosphere. Today, Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills to women and men of all ages through a worldwide network. Although Toastmasters has always helped individuals achieve public speaking excellence far beyond the banquet hall, understanding how to correctly deliver a toast is still something that many need help with. Here is a recent piece from Toastmasters with their best practices for honoring newlyweds. Even if you are not called upon to deliver a wedding toast this season, consider how you can adapt some of these strategies to prepare for occasions in your professional or personal life when you might be required to make a toast or share a few remarks. Remember, as I always say, “Outside the privacy of your own home, all speaking is public speaking.”
Tips for The Perfect Wedding Toast
It’s the time of year when happy couples walk down the aisle in front of their families and friends and begin their lives together. Wedding season is also a time when people close to the couple are expected to give a meaningful toast to celebrate the occasion.
Toastmasters International, the global organization devoted to communication and leadership skills development, offers proven tips for delivering a memorable toast with confidence and finesse. Below are Toastmasters’ 10 best practices for honoring the newlyweds:
- Identify yourself. Open with a brief explanation of your relationship to the couple before beginning the toast.
- Be prepared. The best toasts include an opening, a body and conclusion.
- Stay on topic. Although you may be nervous, stay focused on the couple and their special day.
- Get personal. A toast should be original, heartfelt and customized for the occasion.
- Use humor, but avoid telling potentially embarrassing stories and using offensive language.
- Be creative. Avoid clichés and consider using a relevant quote to illustrate your words.
- Be brief. A toast should last no longer than three minutes.
- Limit alcohol consumption. You’ll want to be in top form when delivering the toast.
- Stand; lift your glass by the stem and say, “I’d like to propose a toast.” Pause to allow guests to shift their attention toward you and give them time to lift their glasses. When you start speaking, lower your glass to about waist height.
- Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your message in advance in front of a group of friends.
“Whether it’s the best man, maid of honor, father of the bride or another speaker chosen to honor the newly married couple, what they say will be remembered,” says George Yen, Toastmasters 2013-14 International President, whose daughter, Keli is getting married in October. ”A toast sets the tone for the wedding reception, so it’s important that the person speaking is prepared, poised and confident.”
In addition to toasting advice, Toastmasters offers many speech tips for special occasions. To practice your toasts or speeches, find a Toastmasters club near you by visiting www.toastmasters.org/findaclub.
About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 292,000 in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.
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