A Go-To Script for an Unscripted Toast
It takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. -- Mark Twain
I whispered to a friend, “Yikes. I wish I’d cornered him before dinner.”
We were at a 50th birthday. Yes, that’s the stage of life I’m in. The husband was deep into a toast... well, more a long-ish story about navigating crowds at Costco to buy immense amounts of wine. It was funny, but not really about his wife.
Hmm. He has a big heart, big feelings, loves his wife, and is ultra-grateful for the life they’ve created. But somehow…he just couldn’t say it.
I have a knack for saying what people are thinking, for seeing what’s inside someone, and coaxing it out.
Sometimes I get the luxury of hours, days, weeks, even months to help someone pinpoint their story, give it a framework, and create something beautiful, authentic, and riveting to share. It’s work I love doing, and I find it immensely satisfying.
Sometimes I’m two glasses of wine in, listening to a guy talk about trying to find his car in a crowded lot and watching the confusion flicker in his wife’s eyes.
Since I couldn’t help my friend, please oh please, let me help you.
Here’s a simple, go-to framework when you have to give a toast or ‘say a few words’...And you only need three minutes, not three weeks!
You’re going to limit yourself to making just THREE points. That’s it. The points don’t need to be connected, or flow seamlessly, or fit together into a story with a moral at the end. These three points will help you keep it brief. They’re easy to remember. And they will ensure you speak from the heart.
Point # 1 Why have we all come together? Literally and figuratively. Why does this moment matter?
Point # 2 What do you love about this person? Here's where you can tell a story. Or stick with what you think makes this person uniquely wonderful and why.
Point # 3 Why are you grateful to this person? Ah, gratitude – It’s so simple, so powerful. There are usually lessons learned from the people in our lives who we care about. We all hope to make an impact in other people’s lives and here's your chance to express what their gift to you is.
Speaking from your heart means shifting the conversation from you, to how you feel about the person you love or admire.
It’s putting your thoughts out the way you would in a sincere conversation over coffee. Or a beer. Hopefully without the ums, you know, and the ya know what I mean?
When you’re presented with an opportunity to pay tribute to a person, be generous. Get out of your own way and focus your message on them.
You know that nervous, ‘this is TMI’ feeling? That’s the clue that you’re about to be real. That signals your power to make the moment meaningful. That’s your chance to make it count.
Check out my speech coaching offerings here. Remember, I’m always here if you need help with the unexpected!
P.S. Yep. Those are my parents at their 55th wedding anniversary last summer. Our toasts made them feel very loved. In addition to being heartfelt, apparently I'm kind of funny, too. [Infusing some humor is always good, too.] And by the way, I spent three weeks working on my toast...this one was important!