Toasts are magical! They enrich and enliven any occasion with goodwill and can be extremely meaningful when they are personal and heartfelt. There are occasions where I can’t remember who got married or who was being honored, but I can still remember amusing toasts – and the people who gave them. On the other hand, I have also been surprised to see rather sophisticated and articulate people stumble and bumble, trying to put together an off-the-cuff toast. Toasts are as much a performance situation as a formal speech, and can be accompanied by all the same phobias and faux pas. See here.
Exercise: Basic Rehearsal/ Pre-Rehearsal Routine
Set up several chairs and a designated place where you will be speaking – standing or sitting – to practice your toast.
Note: Always begin your breathing exercise with an exhalation, never an inhalation.
- Sit in a chair, your palms face up and your hands lying relaxed in your lap.
- Concentrate, pulling your belly in slowly as you exhale through the nose.
- Hold this for three counts: Think “1-2-3.”
- Relax your belly muscles and take a very small breath. (This is one complete belly/diaphragm inhalation-exhalation set. Do not breath so hard that your chest moves.)
- Continue breathing and counting this way for ten breaths. We ask you to pay attention to the counting, because lest you don’t, your mind begins to wander.
Begin this rehearsal standing in front of your imaginary audience.
- Squeeze your toes three times and read your toast to the front of the room. For your first three rehearsals, do not work with a glass of wine in your hand. Do not swivel from the right or the left.
- Do this sequence for four days: twice on Day One, twice on Day Two, three times on Day Three, and three times on Day Four.
- Day Five: Now you are ready to hold a glass of wine/juice in your hand. Prepare a glass of water next to your chair. (Just as actors rehearse with nonalcoholic beverages, so should you.)
- Do ten belly breaths (see Lesson 1).
- Stand up slowly holding the glass of water in your hand.
- Say the first three words separately: “It… is… with… a deep feeling of joy…” etc. Say the rest of the toast normally. If you feel that you are rushing, stop and slow down.
- After the last word, slowly bring the glass to your lips and begin drinking the water.
- Sit down. Do ten belly breaths and take a moment to see how you feel.
- Continue to rehearse with a glass of water once a day until the day of your celebration.