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Toasting 101
by: Michael Varma
Raise their glasses, not their eyebrows.
Raise their glasses, not their eyebrows.

Last June I witnessed the worst, most horrific and tragic toast in my life. The best man, who by all accounts was sober, grabbed the microphone and proceeded to embarrass everyone at the reception. His voice boomed throughout the ballroom as he began, “There once was a bride from France,” and after concluding the off-color limerick he forged on, “There once was a groom from Nantucket.” The guests were not amused, the newlyweds were mortified and the man with the mic quickly labeled himself as “that guy.” This soon to be ex-friend must have thought his humor would be enjoyed by all, but he was very sorely mistaken.

Everyone (well at least everyone who has good judgment and a socially acceptable sense of humor) knows that the purpose of a toast is to shine a gentle spotlight around and pay tribute to the honored guest or event (one that doesn’t scream “I have no idea how to be funny.”) Toasts typically proffer well wishes and good fortune, so composing an eloquent toast that is eloquent, poignant, whimsical and witty can be a challenge and worth every effort.

If presented well, every father of the bride will raise his glass with glee and every mother to great grandmother will pick up the designated-for-guests disposable camera in the center of the table and snap a shot.
And with a company party and holiday season a month for the next four calendar pages, being well-informed on how to give a toast is just about as important as being up to date on how to prevent your body from being swine flu positive. If you have a mother-in-law you need to impress, a promotion you’d like to get or a knot you’d like to tie, remember and practice the three most important concepts to a successful social life: be brief, be bold, be done.

Be Brief. In most cases, less is more. Keeping your remarks short gives your toast a greater impact and gets you on and off the stage. Well crafted words and a succinct delivery will be appreciated by your audience and more likely remembered for years to come.

Be Bold. Stand proud and speak loud. Ensure everyone in the room, including folks sitting in the back row, can hear your tasteful toast. Belting out to the rafters may not be needed. A quick run-through in the room before the crowd assembles will calm frayed nerves and help you gauge how far to project your voice.

Be Done. When finished, sit down. Avoid the urge to take a bow or return for an encore. Smile, nod, and accept any applause or acknowledgements then refocus the spotlight on the guest of honor.

Michael Varma is a freelance writer, professional magician for more than 20 years, and an award-winning distinguished Toastmaster and knows what it takes to entertain an audience. Varma is a published author of educational puzzle books and games and frequently performs at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Calif.

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