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Five Easy Ways To Give A Winning Toast

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If you’ve been asked to give a wedding toast, the pressure to wow the audience can be anxiety provoking and overwhelming for many. Whether you’re the father, mother, best man, maid of honor or even the bride or groom, delivering a speech that hits all the right notes can be easier said than done. But rest assured that with enough preparation and thought, you can bring your ‘A’ game to the microphone. Here are five easy steps to get there from Holly Blum, A Speech To Remember.

1. Get a jump start.

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Many people fall into the trap of procrastinating when it comes to writing their speech, or they make the mistake of “winging it.” Just remember that it’s rare to have less than one or two weeks notice that you will be giving a speech. Use that time to carefully prepare what you want to say. Take a trip down memory lane or brainstorm with friends and family for winning material. Give yourself some wiggle room for edits and re-drafts. At the very least you want to practice your speech a couple of time aloud, preferably in front of a few trusted friends, to make sure that it flows and resonates well.

2. Stay true to yourself.

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Oftentimes, people feel like they need to quote inspirational passages from literature or poetry. Unless this is something you do regularly (i.e., maybe you were an English major or use quotations in your daily life), this rarely makes you sound like a deeper person. In fact, sometimes it can do quote the opposite, making you seem pompous or out of touch. Likewise, there is often pressure to make speeches “laugh out loud” funny. Not everyone is a natural comedian, in which case you shouldn’t attempt to do a stand-up routine. Your speech should reflect who you are as a person, not who you think people expect you to be.

3. Strike a balance between humor and heartfelt.

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Make sure that your speech has a nice balance of humor and sentimentality. Just remember that humor should not cause the guest of honor embarrassment or reveal a secret that most people don’t already know. And when it comes to heartfelt, use it to genuinely communicate how you feel about the guest(s) of honor. 

4. Prioritize connecting with the audience.

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When you’re selecting your material, think carefully about how this information will resonate with the audience. Don’t pick obscure stories or inside information to share with the guests. I always say that if it’s not something you would want your grandmother to hear, don’t include it. Instead, highlight information that everyone in the room, regardless of age, gender or length of relationship with the guest of honor, will appreciate. Make eye contact with friendly faces in the audience and don’t forget to smile.

5. Don’t overstay your welcome. 

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At one wedding I attended, the maid of honor talked for close to 15 minutes, detailing his version of a Letterman-style “Top 10 List Of Favorite Memories With The Bride.” While the sentiment was nice, after the first few memories, my attention wandered. By the end, guests were applauding because it was finally over. My rule of thumb is to keep all celebratory speeches to three to five minutes maximum. No exceptions. It’s always best to leave the audience wanting more, not less.

Giving a winning toast isn’t always easy. These tips can go a long way in ensuring that yours is one to remember and not one you wish to forget. 

See more of Mo Davis' Photography here in this Pastel Wedding Inspiration and here in Black Wedding Vendors To Follow Who Inspire.

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