If the thought of giving a toast makes your palms a little sweaty, you're not alone. Thankfully, giving a great toast at a social gathering can be just as simple as whipping up a great piece of toast. I know what you're thinking: What in the world does warmed bread have to do with getting guests to raise their glasses? Bear with me.
A good piece of toast has a hearty foundation (Dave's Killer bread, anyone?) and is topped with something smooth (think peanut butter), something soft (say, sliced bananas) and a pinch of pizzazz (like a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of chia seeds). If you don't toast the bread long enough, it will come out lukewarm and limp. If you toast it for too long, it will go up in flames—and not to mention, it'll definitely stink. Nobody likes the smell of burnt toast and nobody likes sitting through, let alone giving, a painfully embarrassing speech.
Set a Hearty Foundation
One of the best ways to start a toast is with a simple nod of gratitude for being a part of such a special event. Then, lay the groundwork by telling the story of your relationship with the toast's subject. If you're the maid of honor, how did you come to know the bride? How many years have you been close? Think of it as sharing the SparkNotes version of your story, sparing everyone unnecessary details.
Nerves are completely normal when it comes to public speaking, but a shaky speech-giver doesn't exactly put an audience at ease. If you know you're prone to freeze under pressure, nobody's going to look down on you for having a few note cards on hand. In the same vein, if you know you're a crier, do your best to hold back those tears by focusing on your breath. While sincerity is surely appreciated, waterworks make it all the more difficult to stay on a solid talking track.
If there's ever an occasion to be a little mushy, it's during a special toast. Now is the time to speak from the heart. If you love this person like a brother or a sister, say so. Did they get you through a tough time in your life or teach you something you'll never forget? What are some of their character traits that you truly admire? A little vulnerability goes a long way when it comes to connecting with others, so speak to whatever it is that you appreciate about the subject.
Whether it's sharing a quick and quirky (but appropriate) anecdote or talking about a song, movie or ice cream flavor that reminds you of the subject, sprinkling in personal details will add just the right amount of depth to make the toast memorable.
Then all that's left to do is close with your best wishes for their future, and consider your speech served. Cheers!