One of the most challenging aspects of making toasts is keeping the complex rules of etiquette relating to toasts in mind. Usually, you will have plenty of time to research these rules before the occasion, which is important because not all toasting rules apply to all situations. Generally, the most important thing to do when making a toast is to be considerate of the guests who are listening to you speak.
Preparation is one of the most important things to do when giving a toast. You should absolutely not attempt to give a toast without planning what you are going to say and practicing it several times. This will allow you to refine your delivery and avoid boring your listeners.
Length is also problematic when writing toasts. You want to make your toast as short as it can be while remaining appropriate. Talking for a few minutes is acceptable, but longer than five minutes is excessive. Remember that the focus of the event is not you, but the person you are toasting, so refrain from speaking for a long time because this draws attention away from that person.
Many topics must be avoided when giving a toast. You can sometimes feel free to joke a bit, but embarrassing stories, inside jokes, and lewd material should be left out unless the occasion calls for it specifically.
Absolutely do not have too much to drink before giving a toast. Also, keep your emotions in check, as an emotional outburst or tears during a toast can be awkward. Again, you do not want to take attention away from the person you are toasting.
Some people, though not all, believe it is also important to assume an appropriate physical position for toasting, which includes holding the toasting glass in hand. More importantly, you need to speak very clearly and dynamically. Make eye contact with your audience, but do not forget to address the person you are toasting as well.
Some special situations, like military toasts and short group toasts, have different rules. Often, toasts in formal settings have requirements about standing or sitting, and may require the use of certain formal titles. Short toasts given in rapid succession are usually no more than witty lines about the occasion, and these should primarily be funny, not personal.
When toasting in any situation without preparation, you can sometimes muddle through by following the lead of others. You can also attempt to memorize prepared toasts and simply make them appropriate for the situation by altering the details. Whenever possible, however, you should take the time to prepare your toasts and make them unique for each occasion.
Index of Example Toasts