How to Make a Toast

What better source for how to make a toast than the Toastmaster magazine for communicators and leaders which had an article Here’s to Toasting! in December 2017 issue. Paul Dickson, who is referenced in the article, is a freelance writer of more than 65 non-fiction books, mostly on American English language and popular culture. He has written two books on toasting:

Toasts are an important way in many cultures to recognize, celebrate, and share a moment with others by calling attention to the extra meaning and significance of an event. These moments of celebration can be made more precious by bringing people together in expressing good wishes.

Like any speech, toasts should be concise (2 minutes maximum except for special occasions like weddings or funerals) with beginning, body of 2 or 3 points, and a conclusion but in a short toast there are a few words at the end that people can repeat with you.

The short script of the toast itself might go like this:

  • Introduction
  • topic and good wishes
  • Raise your glass
  • “Please raise your glass and repeat after me”
  • Express a few words on the topic that everyone can say together
  • “Cheers!”

PS. The Art of Manliness blog has written a very good post on the history of toasting, how toasting has gone out of fashion, and what some of the benefits are that make it worth bringing back as a new and improved way of celebrating. That blog also has suggestions that apply equally to men and women on how to give a toast.

33 Presentation Tips

Pat Flynn on the Smart Passive Income blog provides 33 tips for public speaking in a 38 minute video. I like his suggestion about mingling with the audience to understand them better before the presentation. I don’t like his suggestion to start things off by showing a video because your presence right from the start should be used to begin developing a rapport with the audience. His alternative of telling a story is much preferable in my opinion and I would go further to emphasize not relying on over scripting which can make you come across as being robotic rather than being spontaneous and engaged. There is lots more in the video so give it a try if you are looking for suggestions to creatively make your presentation more interesting.

Preparing for Your Next Presentation Performance

Darren Hardy of Success Magazine

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, has provided a concise article on the 6 preparation rituals he uses to achieve success in his presentations. These rituals are for preparing to perform a completed presentation and not a process used to develop the presentation which is another topic that will be covered in my blog. I agree with all of his performance preparation suggestions and especially endorse having a routine of your own to systemize your presentation preparation. I think his third recommendation to write down notes on the beginning of your presentation is ok but what is much better is to use memory techniques with particular focus on your start so you can get rolling and use the momentum to deliver your best performance. My observation is that even the most inexperienced speakers can perform much better and are more convincing if they memorize the key points of their speech rather than relying on notes. Most memorization techniques rely on location and visualization prompts (e.g. method of loci) but more complete coverage of that topic will be included in a future post.

Body Language: Fake it until you make it

I was the toastmaster emcee at the Orléans Raconteurs meeting on Tuesday August 5 (2014) and there was an opening for another speaker so I decided to add a “mystery” speaker. I have been working through the competent communicator manual (for the second time) and the next project on my list was project 5 “Your Body Speaks”. I prepared my speech, “Fake it until you make it” and as luck would have it the August issue of Toastmaster magazine featuring an article on body language arrived that Tuesday afternoon.

Amy Cuddy on the cover of Toastmaster Magazine

Amy Cuddy on the cover of Toastmaster Magazine with “Convey Confidence with Body Language article”.

I added a reference to Ron Gutman, who I wasn’t previously aware of, to my speech and noted that the article even had an illustration of “Fake it ‘Til you become it”. I decided the magazine would make a good prop and reference for the speech.

Mindmap of my speech: Fake it until you make it

Mindmap of my speech: “Fake it until you make it”

All three of my sources have done TED or TEDx talks on the importance of body language.

I Will Change the World

I took a trip in a time machine and saw a talk from the 2023 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference today. (In case you are wondering the time machine was designed on an iPad 3 which is being announced next week). The speech was clichéd but nevertheless it was well done.

I found the speech by (the character) Peter Weyland, an inventor of humanistic robots, interesting because I recently gave a speech myself about how future borg will look more like humans than robots. The technology will be advanced enough to provide its capabilities and be almost invisible because the interface will adapt itself to humans instead of the other way around.

This vision of the future although not explicitly shown in the 2023 TEDtalk will be disturbing/frightening to a lot of people because it suggest that humans will lose control and the robots will take over. The related Prometheus movie trailer (Movie to be released June 8 2012) is even more of a horror story of what could be our end.

Of course it doesn’t have to be this way.

Just recently a new book called Abundance has been released that also presents a picture of the outstanding changes that are accelerating us towards our future and should provide some reasons to be optimistic about solving some of humankind’s most difficult problems. Another Peter, Peter Diamandis has given a TEDtalk in 2012 called Abundance is Our Future. In this scenario technology slays scarcity of resources and the population explosion is seen as a boon rather than a disaster.

It is beyond dispute that massive change will be experienced as time goes on and there will be winners and losers.

The question is – are you seeing the upcoming changes as a source of opportunity or of doom?

Are you going to be driven by fear due to the amygdala (lizard) portion of the brain?

The even bigger question is what are we going to do to create the type of future we want to live in so that time machine can be given a tuneup?

Your Voice Will Give You Away

Seth Godin, one of the most prolific and wise marketers, writers, and speakers, recently wrote about public speaking on his blog.

“It’s extremely difficult to read a speech and sound as if you mean it.
For most of us, when reading, posture changes, the throat tightens and people can tell.

Reading is different from speaking, and a different sort of attention is paid.

Before you give a speech, then, you must do one of two things if your goal is to persuade:

1. Learn to read the same way you speak (unlikely)


2. learn to speak without reading. Learn your message well enough that you can communicate it without reading it. We want your humanity.

If you can’t do that, don’t bother giving a speech. Just send everyone a memo and save time and stress for all concerned.”

I am trying to ensure that as part of speech preparation I rehearse multiple times to both help memorize the speech and also see where it needs to be edited for flow and time.

You have seen the result when a speaker didn’t do this rehearsal.

We all suffer from not having enough time to prepare but try to balance whatever time that can be allocated between time spent creating content and time devoted to rehearsal to improve the quality of speech delivery. If you can’t be excited and present in the moment[1] to deliver a speech just mail it in.

[1] Not being present in the moment reminds me of the Hindenberg disaster video as applied to speeches crashing and burning. If you don’t prepare to be persuasive and bring the humanity of your presence (that Seth mentions) to the speech you might set off the speech equivalent of the disaster to humanity stated in the Hindenberg video.