Whether you can be found in the same pew at church or temple every weekend or are of the non-religious type, Thanksgiving is, for many, the one time of year that a toast of thanks and celebration is a must before chowing down on that turkey and stuffing.
Giving a toast, however, can be a nerve-racking and intimidating endeavor. And for those not used to speaking in public, it can be taxing to deliver even a few words in front of an audience of close family members. Therefore, before standing up this holiday season, reduce your anxiety and the potential for embarrassment by taking note of these four toasting tips.
1. Be Prepared
Mark Twain once said, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” Take this to heart. Whether your toast takes the serious route or you opt for something silly like a fun saying or joke, you probably don't want to pull a Rick Perry and forget what you're saying or drone on. Plan on rehearsing numerous times over. If it’s going to be lengthy, make an outline of the key topics you want to address to review in advance.
2. Keep It Brief
Ninety-nine percent of the time, short and to the point is the best approach when making a toast. Keep your audience from becoming bored and distracted by limiting your words to three minutes, max. And if you can be effective in four or five lines, that’s even better. You know you’ve lost them when everyone except Aunt Betty begins to fiddle with their smartphones.
3. Know Your Audience
Make sure that whatever you say, those you’re addressing will understand and won’t be offended. Opt for a balance of wit, humor, and eloquence to keep your audience captivated the whole way through. If kids are involved, it’s important to keep the language clean and simple. Better yet, get them involved by concluding your toast by having everyone share something they’re thankful for. Perhaps, ask the children to share a toast of their own, even if it is a quote from their favorite book like this one from Pooh's Little Instruction Book, "A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference."
4. Make Sure Your Glass Is Full
Even if the bulk of your toast didn’t go as planned, all that those around you are really thinking about on Thanksgiving is “When can we eat?” So raise the glass in thanks for the food in front of you and dig in.