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are different so become familiar with the one you’ll be using. Strong lights shining directly in your eyes mean your eyes are not shadowed and your audience can see you; don’t squint. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. With all that adrenaline pumping, you’ll need to remind your- self to slow down. Stand up straight and speak louder than you think is necessary, since you’re going to be competing with other noises like the thunderous pound- ing of your heart, drunk wedding-goers, busboy trays and the occasional hard-of- hearing uncle.
Stay sober. Save your celebratory drinks until after your speech. Walk for- ward with pride in the firm knowledge that you’ve earned the right to speak on the subject by way of being a parent or long- standing friend. Remember, this toast is supposed to be a tribute to the subject of the toast and not an opportunity to steal the spotlight. Be sure to focus your remarks on the couple and not yourself.
Keep a smile on your face despite the butterflies in your stomach. People will enjoy your toast more if it looks like you’re really enjoying yourself. Speak real and make friends with your audience. Forget
trying to be a public speaking clone. Think friendly, informal conversation rather than a distant, formal approach. This will free you from the fear of getting something wrong.
The fear of a large audience is com- pletely unfounded. These folks haven’t traveled far and dressed up in their finest clothes just to evaluate your every word and move. They’re present to celebrate the love between two people. The fact is you’ll be talking to a group of friends. Make eye contact with as many guests as possible. This will make everyone feel that you are speaking directly to him or her. And don’t forget to breathe. Breathing allows you to pace yourself and will keep you from faint- ing in the middle of your toast.
During times of great emotion it is often hard to hold back the tears. Never apologize for your feelings. As your tears flow the audiences’ tears will flow with you. You’ll soon regain your composure and have people laughing with you as you share one of those awkward moments.
Rehearse your toast for ten minutes a day at home. Imagine yourself at the venue as a confident, warm speaker. Each time you rehearse, try to differ your words slightly. It’s less important that you
follow the toast word-for-word and more important that your sincerity exudes through the toast. Before you ever set foot in front of those guests, be sure you have read your speech out loud numerous times to become completely comfortable with what you’re going to say. You’re less likely to freeze up if you’re confident in those words.
For those who have a true public speak- ing-phobia, there are companies who spe- cialize in such speechwriting and for a price, can help guide you through the process. Some companies will even write the per- sonalized speech for you once the neces- sary material is provided. These speech- writers can offer the exact words or tone that the speaker might have been lacking.
Finally, when closing your toast, raise your glass and leave the audience with a wish or blessing for the couple and a resounding ‘Cheers’ ‘Congratulations’ or “To the Happy Couple! I’m looking for- ward to the day when we’re all together again celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary.” You can also use a one-liner classic toast like “To love, laughter and happily ever after!” Once you’re finished, remember to take a sip. §

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