A holiday toast is a great way to add a touch of class to a holiday gathering and leave a favorable impression with attendees. Here are some public spoeaking tips to make sure your toast is delivered well.
A toast can be the official beginning of an event. Wait until it appears most guests have arrived and then deliver your toast. Start by welcoming everyone.
Introduce yourself. Don’t assume everyone knows who you are. Even those who have met you before may have forgotten. If you’re not the host, consider explaining how you know the host or why you are the one delivering the toast.
Meet audience expectations. As in all aspects of public speaking, it’s always about your audience. Be warm and be sincere.
Avoid canned humor. Canned jokes are known as groaners for a reason. If a groan is the best you can hope for, is it a good idea? Instea, recognize the potential for spontaneous humor.
Be accurate. Make sure you’ve got your information correct. If you’re mentioning names, make sure you’re pronouncing them accurately. Mistakes can kill your credibility.
Be brief. Don’t have people waiting with a glass in their hand for too long. If you tell a story, make sure it’s short and that there’s a clear point to it.
Make the actual raising of the glass special. Consider asking everyone to stand to ensure you have their attention. Don’t shortchange the toast with a cliché like “down the hatch.” This is an opportunity to make a personal connection. Toasts usually end with a positive look to the future.
Here’s hoping these tips help you put together a great holiday toast!
Asking your audience a “by show of hands” question just might be the most engaging type of question you can ask and one of the most powerful tools you have available as a public speaker or business presenter.
Here are some of the reasons why “show of hands” questions are so engaging:
First, like all questions, the audience has to think about their answer (provided you word it correctly and pause to give audience members adequate time to think).
Second, the audience has to involve themselves physically (granted it’s not calisthenics, but there is some physical motion involved).
Third, it engages audience members with one another as they look around to see who has their hands up and who doesn’t. Ask a question like “by show o hands, how many parents do we have?” and you’ll see audience members form instant bonds with one another.
Watch Out for These Mistakes
“Show of hands” can be very engaging, but here are a few things to watch out for so your question doesn’t backfire:
First, make sure the question is worded clearly so audience members are crystal clear about how to respond.
Second, make sure you take the time to see how many hands are up and report the results to the audience with a comment. Think of the “by show of hands” question as a real-time poll. Like a poll, you’ll want to note the results, report the results back to the audience and analyze the findings. “Ah, I see about half of you are parents. That’s about typical for working people.”
Third, don’t rush it. I’ve seen many presenters ask for a show of hands but then charge on with their presentation before they’ve even counted the results of their query. This leaves an audience feeling a bit cheated and audience members are left thinking: “He didn’t even take the time to look at my answer. I hadn’t even got my hand up yet and he moved on. I guess he didn’t really even care about the answer.”
If you’re going to ask the question, take the time to get the answer. You and your audience will be glad you did.