With Thanksgiving kicking off the festive holiday season next week here in the US, many of you will find yourselves in numerous situations where a toast or a few words to a group will be in order. Just because you're at the company holiday party or at the dinner table with Grandpa Horace and Aunt Willamina, don't leave your presentation skills back in the office.
TIPS FOR TOASTING
A few tips to keep in mind as you toast the season:
- If you know you're going to be asked to say a few words, do choose your remarks in advance. Very, very few people are naturally good extemporaneous speakers. As Mark Twain said, "It usually takes three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech."
- Even if you're not explicitly tasked with holiday remarks, prepare some anyway. You never know when it might be opportune, appropriate or just plain charming to have a clever or heartfelt toast or mini-speech to contribute to the occasion.
- As in all presentation situations, make eye contact with the entire group and speak clearly, slowly and loudly enough so everyone can hear.
- Practice enough so that you can say what you want to say smoothly and confidently. Even the best words and sentiments will be rendered ineffective if you stumble through them.
Here are a few of my favorite toasts and quotes...use them as is, or personalize for your situation.
"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and the road downhill all the way to your door." Celtic salutation
"Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence." Erma Bombeck
"May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, may your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump. May your yams be delicious, and your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!" Unknown
"In the coming year, may good fortune precede you, love walk with you and good friends follow you." Irish toast