There are occasions when you want to say a few words to
commemorate a person or event, but you don't want to give
a speech. Company parties to celebrate the holidays, a
respected colleague's retirement, a major accomplishment,
a merger — all call for some acknowledgement. If the mood
is festive — especially if food and drink are being
served — a drawn-out, formal speech may be entirely
At such times, consider proposing a toast.
Here's how to propose a toast.
1. The Introduction
2. The Wish
Make sure that everyone has a full glass. (Remember
that not everyone drinks alcohol.)
Stand in some prominent place and get people's
Hold you own glass in front of you a little above
Introduce yourself briefly, if you aren't already
known by everyone present. Say something about why
you've gathered. Are you celebrating a successful
project or period of time? A recent win? A newly formed
partnership? The achievement of a big goal? Or are you
honoring a particular person for what he or she has
done? Say so.
Keep these introductory remarks brief — no longer
than a minute to a minute and a half.
3. The Toast
Raise your glass to eye level.
State a hope or a wish for the future of the person
being honored or for the parties gathered at the event.
Use the subjective form, "May..."
Make it no more than two or three sentences. Keep
your remarks in the spirit of the event, appropriate to
the mood of the gathering. Don't be light and breezy at
a formal gathering or stiff and serious at a casual
Raise your glass overhead.
In three or four words name the person, persons, or
occasion being honored, "To..." If you keep it
short, people will repeat the toast.
4. An Example
As a speech coach and consultant, I'd like to propose
a toast to you.
Getting up in front of an audience to say a few words
can be a nerve-racking endeavor. It is not for the faint
of heart or the timid. And yet, whether by your own
choosing or at someone else's request, you are about to
do precisely that — to stand in front of a formal
gathering and propose a toast.
So here's my toast. May you be charming and gracious.
May your words warm the hearts and amuse the minds of
those you toast. And may the good wishes you share come
back to bless you.
See also How to
Give a Speech.
Chris Witt, a coach based in San Diego, works with
executives and with technical experts who want to give
more effective presentations. If you're interested
in learning more about how you could benefit from his
coaching, contact him for a complimentary