Speaking off the cuff is acceptable for a dinner-time toast, but you might fail to find the right words to say as hungry eyes focus on you. You’ll stand tongue-tied with your “ums” and “ahs” while your chums begin to chat with one another giving you time to gather your thoughts. By the time you’re ready, the moment’s gone. Knowing when and what to say is key to your success, so follow the three Ds: Draft, Decide, and Deliver and all will be delicious.
Today’s listeners expect clarity, especially from a host. You must communicate openly with your audience or you’ll lose their attention. A simple action plan needs to take place before you raise your glass. So, like a good little boy or girl scout, be prepared.
Take the time to draft a tasteful toast. Write words that express the joy you feel when you’re with your dinner guests. Let them know how much you appreciate their friendship. It’s easier to sketch out a dash of humor now, in the solitude of your own home, than in the bustling background of a restaurant.
Now a days there are no hard rules when to give a toast but there are two natural delays in the dining action you can take advantage of: before dinner or before dessert. After the waiter takes your order, there will be a few seconds of silence as he makes a beeline to the chef in the kitchen. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to determine which opportunity is a better fit to addresses your companions.
Giving a toast before the main meal, at an informal gathering, will set the tone for the evening and conversations will originate from your positive proclamation. Often this type of toast suggests, “The future is ours” and “Let’s get this party started.”
Saying a few words prior to the post-dinner delicacies (that’s fancy talk for “before dessert”) is an ideal way to recap conversations and toast your friends. Typically, this type of toast indicates the evening’s festivities are coming to a close.
Instead of tapping a spoon against a glass to capture everyone’s attention, simply stand up at the table. Conversations will cease and all eyes will focus on you. The stage is set and it’s time to deliver your complimentary message.
It’s best to memorize your mini-speech and look at the folks around the table. But if you have to use notes, rest assured your friends will understand. Speak loud enough so your guests can hear you over any music, conversation or other distractions. When done, raise and clink your glass and take a sip before you sit down.
A special occasion deserves clear communication. A little preparation will help you deliver your heartfelt message. Remember the three Ds (Draft, Decide, and Deliver) and your dinner-time toast will disarm, denote, and delight.
I recently had an opportunity to share my sincere thoughts with a group of professional writers dining at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and offered this toast:
For my literary friends I decided to write,
a brand new toast to deliver tonight.
I appreciate your humor, I appreciate your wit.
I appreciate your candor, so happy, I should sit.
But I stand humbled and proud,
To be associated with such an infamous crowd.
We are all varied – an eclectic blend,
I’m fortunate to call each one of you friend.
Top Row: Tim, David, Diana, Michael, Barbara, and Nicole
Bottom Row: Maki, Cory, Jillian, Beth, Brian and Brian.
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