When You Make a Toast Keep it Short and Not About You

img-0Holidays used to mean celebrations. Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, New Years and Kwanzaa all meant parties in pre-Pandemic days. Now, most parties have to go virtual if they are going to happen at all.

Parties frequently mean toasts. Toasts will still be part of most virtual parties. So what if you’re asked to make a toast to celebrate any occasion?

It’s Not About You

A toast is a mini speech, so prepare for it just like you would get ready for a presentation at work. Many people avoid giving toasts because they dislike speaking in public. It’s nerve wracking to summarize your best wishes in two minutes. It will be easier if you speak from the heart.

Remember, it’s not about you.

The guests are assembled to celebrate the holiday, the bride and groom or the new graduate. We’ve all sat through toasts that rambled on and on. If you do that, guests will begin fidgeting while the honorees stare at their shoes, too embarrassed to look up. So keep your toast short.

Use a Quote

If you don’t feel that you’re a particularly creative person, you can search the web for an appropriate quote. Sites like Brainy Post and Good Reads have dozens of quotes you can adapt to your toast. Don’t laugh, but you can also peruse greeting cards for quotes, or borrow a line from a movie.

One we particularly like for a wedding toast is the famous line from the movie, “Jerry McGuire.” You might say something like:

Quoting the line “you had me at hello” from “Jerry McGuire,” if ever there was a couple that had each other at the first hello it’s John and Mary. That’s how well suited they are to each other.

Keep it private – don’t mention the times they broke up before finally getting together for good.

A Business Toast

Sometime during your career you may be asked to toast a business associate who is retiring or a client who’s just won a big promotion.

If you don’t know the person well, find someone who does so you can weave personal anecdotes into your toast. What do you want the people in the audience to know about this person? By the way, be sure you learn how to pronounce the honoree’s name correctly with the proper title.

If you know the person, it’s OK to share a funny anecdote, as long as it’s short. But read the toast to someone else first. You may think it’s funny but others may not and it could backfire on you. It’s more important to be sincere than funny.

Practice at Being Your Best

Follow these simple rules to make a toast that will be remembered long after the party is over.

  • Practice. Practice with a friend, or in front of a mirror, or even your dog. Don’t try to memorize the toast. You might be so nervous in the spotlight that your mind will blank out.
  • Be eloquent and brief. Always stand and look at the people you’re toasting. Use gestures and say the words as if you really mean them. It’s perfectly acceptable to write your toast on an index card and read from it.
  • Be specific. Don’t give a generic toast. Be sure to include stories or facts that refer specifically to the honorees – how they met, something they accomplished, what your connection is to them. After all, you were asked to give a toast for a reason.

    Virtual communicaztions
    A Primer on Virtual Communications

  • Keep it simple. Use short sentences and avoid big words that are difficult to pronounce.
  • Don’t drink. If you are at a wedding or business gathering where liquor is being served, don’t have a drink before making your toast. If you do, you may end up embarrassing yourself by slurring your words while mangling the toast and ruining the occasion.
  • Be done with it. End the toast on a high note. Raise your glass and invite the audience to join in the toast.

Don’t leave your success up to chance, take a look at our primer on virtual communications to transition to a successful virtual party. Then sit down. Your job is over. Enjoy the occasion.

Share this post:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe for Free Tips

Enter your contact information below to subscribe to our blog and receive your free copy of our 46-page guide Presenting Yourself and More….

Connect with Newman Group


The Newman Group Is . . .


The Newman Group is a recognized leader in guiding business professionals, celebrities and authors to improve their communications skills in presentations and media interviews.

Our highly skilled and experienced professionals have the expertise in media and presentation training to meet any business situation — from helping an executive to prepare for the challenge of talking to a reporter during a business crisis to presenting a group of investors during an IPO or keeping a celebrity spokesperson on point.