This time of year brings lots of inquiries that go something like this: “I have to give a toast at a wedding, and I don’t know what to say/want it to be funny/i’m scared to death…” and the like. (A funny thing is it’s often a wife who will call on behalf of her husband. Hmmm.)
My first response is, “Relax, this is the most fun you’ll have in public speaking and a great opportunity to impress family, friends, and maybe even bosses and colleagues.”
Besides my usual advice to prepare and practice (a lot), and embrace any stage fright, here are some additional steps:
- No alcohol beforehand. This is a huge mistake so many people make. Drinking doesn’t relax you, it dulls you, throws you off your game.
- Don’t embarrass the bride or groom. Or anyone else. Stories should be warm and funny, touching.
- Be emotional. Don’t break down in sobs, but it’s ok to well up a little. This is one of the only venues this type of thing is acceptable.
- Keep it short: 5 minutes at most, provided it’s entertaining. We speak at approximately 140 wpm (words per minute), so do the math.
- Don’t read it. You can use notes to stay on track. Practicing will help you learn it so it seems more spontaneous.
After you’re done, and you have everyone laughing, crying, thinking, “Wow, that was perfect,” raise your glass and celebrate the happy couple — and yourself — by taking a nice, big swig.