For many, the idea of giving a wedding toast is a recipe for a pit in the stomach. In fact, public speaking consistently ranks among the greatest of Americans’ fears — even more than “snakes, stalkers or spiders,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 1924, a quiet YMCA employee named Ralph C. Smedley began what was then called the Toastmasters Club, in Santa Ana, California, to assist those hoping to develop their interpersonal skills. Today, Toastmasters International boasts 300,000 members in more than 15,800 clubs in 149 countries. Locally, five clubs exist across Mobile and Baldwin counties, each with a unique culture but identical mission to create confident speakers, communicators and leaders.
In the name of conquering fears, MB spoke with the Downtown Club (in Mobile) to get their top seven tips for knocking that wedding toast out of the park. Cheers!
Tips for Toasting
One section of the Toastmasters International advanced manual covers specialty speeches. From the experts, here are a few things to consider:
1. Introduce yourself. Not everyone at the wedding may know who you are. Also, this gives the audience a chance to quiet down and focus their attention to you.
2. Make it personal. Tell a short story about the bride or groom. This helps you to connect with your audience. Emphasis on the word “short.”
3. Try to add humor. If you do not have a personal quip on the bride or groom, make a quick pun on marriage in its entirety but NEVER be mean. Sarcasm is never appropriate.
4. Address the couple. Even though you are talking in front of a crowd, your words should be directed to the happy couple.
5. Be sappy. In other words, get sentimental and let the couple know how much they mean to you. While you do not want to go into a full-blown sob, shedding a tear or two
6. Apply the KISS method. “Keep It Short and Sweet.” Toasts should never drag on. Two to three minutes is long enough.
7. Practice, practice and practice again. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of folks. Speaking with emotions compounds the nerves. Practice your toast in front of a mirror or better yet, video yourself. Saying the words over and over will help you gain confidence.