Source | FastCompany : By ANETT GRANT
You’re at an awards dinner. Or maybe it’s a grand opening, or even a retirement party. You’re asked to say a few words, but you aren’t sure how to do it. How do you find the right level of mush—not too mushy, but just mushy enough? It’s a special occasion, so you want to give your audience a warm feeling, but you don’t want to get too corny and make them cringe. Here are five simple tips to bear in mind for your next toast.
When you gather together for a celebration, you share the same physical space with your audience. You all experience the same setting—the decor and so on. Yet inside, each of you still inhabits your own little world—noting the buzz of your smartphone, the thoughts in your head about the food or the people you’re seated next to. So the first challenge any master of ceremonies or toast-maker faces is simply connecting with their audience by sharing the same mental space as well.
The easiest way to create that connection, of course, is simply to talk about what’s in common with everyone: Why are you here together in the first place? When you begin with the obvious, it’s like listening to the first notes of a familiar tune—everyone gets into the same groove.
For example, if you’re celebrating a retirement, you could begin by saying something like, “We’re here today to celebrate a transition—from ending to beginning, from the familiar to the unknown, from one challenge to another challenge.” This may not sound especially original to you, but it’s an effective way to quickly set the tone. By giving voice to the common experience, you bring the audience together, forging a feeling of unity.
From there, it’s time to move away from anything potentially trite. Now that you have your audience thinking about the same thing, you want to instill a common feeling about it while also consolidating their focus on you. The easiest way to do that is by telling them a quick story about yourself that’s relevant to the situation.