There are many occasions when you may need to raise a toast. Perhaps a close friend or colleague has requested that you give a toast at an upcoming celebration in front of a variety of people — but you have no clue where to start. Or maybe you’re hosting the get-together and expect to give a toast. Through this article, you’ll learn all there is to know about when to give toasts, how to approach different types of toasts and how to come up with ideas for toasts.
What Is a Toast?
A toast is a speech meant to act as a “gift” either to a guest of honor or to the group gathered for the celebration. The toast speech itself should incorporate a combination of sentimentality and humor — themes that will connect with people in the most positive way. If you are in a position where you feel you can’t do both, we recommend focusing on sentimentality since a toast with only humor may come off as inappropriate.
When to Give a Toast
If you are not hosting the event, you should wait to raise a toast until after the host or guest of honor has done so. If you are the host or guest of honor, then you can give your toast once everyone’s been served the food. As the guest of honor, you should toast the host in return.
Types of Toasts
Not all toasts are the same. The structure and content of your toast should depend on the event you’re attending, who else is there and whether you’re the host or guest of honor.
Arguably the most popular occasion for it, weddings are great opportunities for parents, the maid of honor, the best man and the newlyweds themselves to raise toasts. But even if you aren’t a member of this group, you can still provide an unplanned toast during the rehearsal dinner or at the official reception. You should center the speech around the couple if you are not the bride or groom. Wedding toast ideas should allow you to speak for several minutes and can be somewhat informal, depending on the audience.
2. Dinner Parties
Toasts at dinner parties tend to be more intimate and can incorporate inside jokes. In this smaller, more informal setting, your toast should not be long. You can even make your toast as short as two words like “To health!” If you have a lot to talk about, then you should cap your toast at around 60 seconds.
3. Post-Funeral Gatherings
A funeral and a post-funeral gathering are two different events. Do not give a toast at a funeral. If you find yourself with a small intimate group of people after a funeral or memorial service, you may want to provide a toast. If you decide to do so, be extra careful with what you say. Your tone should have a somber edge and any jokes should not be at the expense of the deceased or the mourning. The focus should primarily be on sentimental topics regarding your connection with the deceased. The length of the toast should be around 60 seconds out of respect for others who may wish to share their own thoughts.
4. Milestone Parties
Milestone parties are often for people who just graduated, landed a new job or retired. Regardless of the milestone, the focus of the toast should be on recognizing the guest of honor’s accomplishments and the excitement you have for them to enter a new stage of their life. The length of the toast for occasions like these can be as short as you’d like but should not be any longer than a couple of minutes.
Tips for Giving a Memorable Toast
While there is no perfect way to give a toast and every toast is different, there are some elements that should remain consistent regardless of the event or individuals involved.
1. Establish a Connection
A toast should start off with establishing a connection to the audience. The easiest way to accomplish this connection is by stating the obvious reason you’re all together in the first place. You can also make a reference to the environment around you or an inside joke if the entire audience will get it.
2. Hook the Audience
An audience member will decide in the first several seconds whether or not it’s worth listening to what you have to say. If you can’t prove to them the value of your toast within those first several seconds, you risk them tuning out. Any good toast has a hook that should cause the audience to listen intently. This hook could be a reference to a story that will be mentioned later or just something funny or striking. As long as it grabs the audience’s attention in a positive way, go for it.
3. Tell a Story
People love stories. That’s why we watch movies, read books and listen to gossip. A toast with a story that’s relevant and entertaining to the audience and guest of honor involved is way more memorable than a toast without one.
For a short toast, we recommend one story and for longer toasts, we recommend three that follow a central theme. If you are telling more than one story, you should incorporate hooks at the beginning of each, just as you did at the beginning of your toast.
It’s also imperative not to skip out on background information if it’s needed to get the full impact of the story or understand any of its funnier parts. No need to be overly in-depth, though, since providing too much background information may cause the audience to tune out.
4. Raising the Glass
Before you start your toast, make sure that everyone has a beverage, whether alcoholic or not, so that everyone can join in. As you end your toast, you should always thank the host and request that everyone in the audience joins you in raising your glasses for the guest of honor. As you raise the toast, make a statement about the good wishes you have for the guest of honor. If you happen to be the host or the guest of honor, then thank the audience for coming out and provide the audience with good wishes as you raise your glasses.
Learn More About Dining Etiquette From USS Nemo
Even if you have the perfect toast ready to go, there are other elements of your upcoming event you need to be ready for. Contact us at USS Nemo to learn more about our unique ambiance and award-winning fresh seafood.
We can only seat complete parties for reserved tables. Please be sure your entire party has arrived before checking in with our hostess.
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