Whenever I watch a movie and I see a Toast being made for an occasion, it always seems so bland. It seems curt and uninspired.

Even in real life I don’t believe that I have ever witnessed a Toast that has been compelling…other than at Toastmasters.

After all, this makes sense, it says it in the Toastmasters name. We are the Masters of the Toast! Jokes aside, we have been at it for ninety five years so it would follow that we would know a thing or two about giving a Toast.

Toasts at Toastmasters

I absolutely love the idea that we do Toasts at Toastmasters.

I have always found it useful to think of a Toast as a very short speech. It gives all of us the opportunity to say something brief and meaningful, but also has weight and relevance.

I personally think that giving a Toast at Toastmasters is an Excellent way for someone with a fear of public speaking to get used to the stage very quickly and learn how to direct a crowd.

Some useful Guidelines when giving a Toast

  • A Toast is two to three minutes long. The average speaking rate is a hundred words per minute. That means you can write up two to three minutes worth of things to say, learn it and be ready to perform a Toast inside of a day.
  • There are protocols involved in giving a Toast and I’ll cover the basics. It’s always a good idea to ask the audience to ensure that their glasses are charged before starting the Toast i.e. do they have their glasses filled. Typically the Toastmaster of the Day or the SAA may have addressed this, but nevertheless it’s a good idea to check this with your audience. After all, you don’t want to be in a position were a late arrival has an empty glass and instead you see a beer can come up at the end of the toast.
  • Before concluding the Toast, I like to again ask the audience again to ensure that their glasses are charged, then ask them to rise with me and help me in giving a Toast to something. I find this helps direct the crowd more effectively. I do this because someone may not know how proceedings work and a little direction sometimes helps.
  • At Toastmasters there are two kinds of toasts ; a Loyalty Toast and a Toast of own Choice. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say is that one is a Toast to your Country and the other is a Toast of your own choosing.
How to give a Toast

A Toast that I’m Proud of

I’m writing this specific post because I gave a Toast recently that I was indeed very proud of. I was happy with how I crafted it, I was thrilled at how I delivered it and I was ecstatic that the crowd resonated with it.

I’m proud of the Toast because it accomplished three things

  • It touched on something that I’m passionate which is Veganism
  • My focus this year is to preach leadership because we are sorely lacking it in South Africa. This Toast highlighted the need and virtues of leadership.
  • And finally I drew attention to the fact that all of us has a voice, and that we ourselves can be leaders.

It delivered well because I believe in all of the above, and it resonated with the audience because leadership that is meaningful is important to all of us.

This is the Toast below for reference.

One of the most powerful voices to be heard last year was that of Greta Thunberg.

For those of you that don’t know, she is a sixteen year old climate crisis activist.

Last year she had the ear of the United Nations, COP 27, and just recently she spoke at Davos. She has a powerful voice.

I happen to be Vegan just like she is. We’re both part of the same movement Veganism that aims to stop the climate crisis. And that movement has been growing exponentially because of voices like hers. There are other voices in the movement like BeyoncĂ©, Jay-Z, Serena Williams, RZA, Snoop Dogg, Russel Simmons, Joaquin Phoenix, etc.

The movement has grown because it has leaders with strong voices that are compelling.

Now here is South Africa have got huge problems. 50% youth unemployment, the highest wealth gap in the world, 0.8 projected GDP, failing infrastructure and corrupt State Owned Enterprises.

Where is our Greta Thunberg? Where are our leaders?

Where are the people that will make our country better?

They are here is this room! The Toastmasters slogan is “Where leaders are made”. So let us make leaders.

Let us Take full advantage of the platform. Sign up for roles. Do your speeches. Visit other clubs.

If a sixteen year vegan kid can speak volumes. We all can speak of what we believe in.

Every single one of you has a powerful message to deliver. All of us here have the ability to express ourselves. All of us here are leaders.

So please rise and join me in making a toast to Leaders

Jae Subramoney

Conclusion

Toasts are often overlooked and underutilized in helping us become great speakers.

We often experience a profound speech and see it as being the pinnacle of communication. However there are shorter more concise means to engage, direct and compel your audience.

One of the best ways to do this is to simply give a Toast.

Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash