Whether toasting employees at a company party, holiday luncheon with clients or a New Year’s Eve celebration, don’t leave it to chance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare and deliver those holiday speeches!
Capture their attention
The first thing you have to do is get their attention. Nix whistling or clinking a knife against a glass, simply let others know you will be making a toast and ask for their help in quieting down the room.
It’s not about you, it’s about them
Your comments should reflect the personality of your guests. If the guests are older family members or co-workers, it’s probably best to avoid any off-color jokes. If the celebration is full of friends and peers, keep it more lighthearted and personal. Either way, keep your toast happy and light to reflect the mood of your celebration and your guests.
It’s a good idea to avoid clichés whenever you step up to speak. That means avoiding phrases like “let’s all raise our glasses,” and for New Year’s Eve refrain from references to Father Time or Baby New Year. Keep it real, offering heartfelt comments that will allow you to connect with your guests and make them smile.
Remember you’re not Jimmy Fallon
Everyone wants to be funny, but most of us are not. If you do use jokes in your toast, make sure they’re appropriate and that you can pull it off. Nothing is worse than a joke gone wrong. And remember, it’s never a good idea to embarrass your guests.
Keep it short and sweet
No one likes a speech that drags on and on and on, especially when everyone is celebrating and having a good time. Keep it simple; a toast should last less than one minute. Lizzie Post, great-great granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition suggests “The best toasts are usually somewhere in the three to ten sentence range.”
Remember the four S’s: Stand, Smile, Say it and Sit
Diane Gottsman, modern manners and etiquette expert summarizes it best; “Always stand up when you are making a toast to a large group of people. Raise your glass, smile, make eye contact with the person or group you are toasting, and say something heartfelt. Take your seat and continue to enjoy the party.”
Make it a group effort
Looking for an engaging toast? If so, Brian Van Flandern, author of Craft Cocktails and Vintage Cocktails offers this tip:
“The host begins by holding a bottle of wine or champagne and sharing a New Year’s resolution (or thought) with her guests. She then passes the bottle to the person on her left—this way the whole table gets to share their resolutions or say a few words.”
Wishing you a joyful and prosperous New Year!
Stephanie Scotti, Professionally Speaking