The Perfect Toast

One of the best ways to affirm someone is to propose a toast. We don’t need a plaque or certificate to show our love and appreciation for someone; we can do it with words. That is what a toast consists of. A toast is a special way to celebrate an event or date in a person’s life with words of affirmation and encouragement.

I attended a wedding recently at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The wedding and reception, naturally, had a baseball theme, and one side of the room looked down on the ball field. With this as a backdrop, Stephen Byers delivered this toast to his brother and new sister-in-law:

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to quit warming the bench and watching the game from the sidelines and step up to the plate. Today, Rick, is that day for you. Spring training is over, your friends and family are cheering you on from the stands, and you’re at bat. In my own 31 seasons, I’ve learned that life is an unpredictable pitcher. Often times, when you’re feeling good—the count is in your favor and you think you’ve got it figured out—you get thrown a curve ball. But it’s nice to know that now you have a teammate for life who will help you round the bases toward home plate. To quote a friend of ours, ‘When God put you two together, He hit a homerun.’ Let’s raise our glasses in tribute to Rick and Ashley’s marriage.”

Here are traits that make this a model toast: The toast is short. Two minutes should be enough length to keep the audience attentive and provide a complete message. The toast relates to the context of the event. There are references to the marriage and he predicts positive results of this wedding. The toast is unique and creative. The analogy to the baseball theme is memorable and meshes with the surroundings. There are no extraneous words or clichés that often accompany toasts such as, “I know so many things about Joe that I don’t where to begin,”  or “I’ve always admired you and loved you  as we have grown up together.”

There is structure to the toast. The audience can follow the narrative easily. Even though there are references to the challenges of marriage, there is an upbeat spirit that has a nice positive tenor. It ends with a prompt to actually drink to the couple.

Any accomplishment is a reason to propose a toast. Use these tips and you will add happiness and a positive aura to the occasion.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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