People who are good to outstanding public speakers share one trait; they know their topic. The more passionate they are about it, the more engaging they are for an audience. Listeners want to identify with a speaker and that’s the secret to captivating a crowd. It’s the season for end of year speeches and toasts and people are feeling upbeat already so remember, the key is to feel the love and genuinely convey how much you care.
When making a toast your aim is to simply share your feelings for the couple, the person, the team or achievement. What you say can be outweighed by how you deliver and the golden rule – for all communication, but most especially for speaking to a group – is to be meaningful and warm. The length, content, humour and pace can all vary but get your major point across like you mean it.
- Plan what you want to say and plan to keep it simple – no toast should take more than 30 seconds. It is not about you and your opinion, focus on the recipient.
- Know your listeners and speak to them – name names, make eye contact, be relevant.
- Decide your hook, make your point, and then close. Your speech notes can be boiled down to these three dot points, and then you won’t need notes and risk losing your place.
- If you’re nervous, the critical thing to practise is looking and sounding calm, more than your content. You can appear and feel calm by controlling your breathing and smiling.
- Ultimately, a toast is an emotional message and your sincerity matters most.