Accountancy South Africa – Toasting at Special Events

At special occasions, I observe how most people happily record the event on their mobile devices and few actually volunteer to conduct a Toast. It seems that most people either lack the skill of Toasting or feel embarrassed by the formality of doing so.

Why should you toast?

Toasts is a formal expression of goodwill and appreciation. It serves to unify the group and to publicly acknowledge a person or event. A basic human need is a sense of belonging which requires reinforcement. A verbal toast, followed by the synchronous consumption of beverage can be likened to a reinforcement ritual. Toasting is also a sensory experience that makes a special occasion more memorable: you taste the drink; you feel the emotion; you see people around you; you hear the clinking of glass, the words of the toast, and the applause afterwards; and you touch people when you shake hands or hug them. When you say “Cheers” an individual sensory experience becomes a group participation and acknowledgment.  Individual thought becomes unified.

When should you toast?

A Toast is an opportunity to add meaning and significance to an event. It can be done at any gathering including: promotions; birthdays; anniversaries; weddings; reunions; house-warming; engagements; and going-away parties. Toasting is a way of spreading prosperity; it’s a way to share a moment to reflect, appreciate and uplift.

5-Step on preparing a Toast

First, a Toast is a speech. It needs to have an opening, body and conclusion. It should fit the occasion in both mood and language. If it’s an informal gathering, toasts can be lighter in tone. Make reference to the occasion and to the person being honoured – offer some thought or perspective on the event.

Second, personalise the Toast for the recipient or for the occasion. This could include personal stories and appropriate quotes. The Toast is not about you – focus on someone else or something else.

Third, be careful with humour – do not try to be funny as this distracts from the objective of the Toast. Don’t embarrass anyone. Be sensitive to your audience and the occasion.

Fourth, keep your Toast short – two minutes maximum. Practice your delivery. The best Toasts are sincere and heartfelt. The message is lost if you are reading from a script.

Fifth, once you are done with your Toast, ask the audience to raise their glasses – any beverage will do: alcoholic drinks, tea, water, coffee and juice.

Inspirational Advice

  1. One “proposes” a toast and not “makes” a Toast. Once done, the group accepts the Toast after they raise their glass and repeat your last lines – for example “To success and happiness”.
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol before you deliver your toast. You have a responsibility to perform with grace, tact and clear purpose of mind.
  3. Start by saying “I wish to propose a Toast” to get the attention of the audience.
  4. For very formal events, ask the guests to stand as you Toast together.
  5. Lead the group into an applause once everyone has completed the group Toast.

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