The art of giving a gentlemanly toast

Cavallo Point

It's wedding season, and nothing says “mazel tov” like the time-honored tradition of public speaking from people who probably shouldn't even address a drive-thru intercom. Here’s how to rock the mic:

  • Get loose. If a few hundred sets of eyes doesn’t make you short of breath, that top button definitely will. Undo it, and give that tie a tug.
  • Nix the standup. 90% of people lead off with a joke, and 89% of people tank. Better to start with a "that’s so them" anecdote than hear crickets.
  • One up, one down. As in hands. One in your pocket, one holding the microphone.
  • Landmarks. Find them in the room -- on the left, middle, and right -- and address them periodically. This prevents one side of the room from feeling ignored and you from reading. Burying your head in your notes went out with Social Studies presentations.
  • Play the numbers. Keep to a 70/30 rule -- 70% toast, 30% roast.
  • Watch the clock. Between three and five minutes means people won’t be shifting in their taffeta'd seats.
  • Wing it. Leave one part of your speech unwritten. An on-the-spot delivery means at least one section will sound especially heartfelt and spontaneous.
  • Stick to a timeline. Referencing something from their past, present, and a wish for their future is a solid way to tie it all together. Just make sure that past something isn’t a someone. Sorry, Julie.