Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here's to You

By Judith Garfield

It’s a fact: Americans fear public speaking more than…death.

According to the “The Book of Lists,” the fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of the people. Number two is death. Number three is probably, according to me, a combination of the two, fear of dying (metaphorically speaking) while talking in front of an audience.

As Jerry Seinfeld observes, most people would rather be the subject of a eulogy than deliver one. I concur.

This past year my two beautiful daughters have gotten married, and S. and I wanted to say a few words at the receptions. Needless to say, we were a little scared about making fools of ourselves. I think we pulled it off, and even made it sound spontaneous, but let me tell you, it took a lot of rehearsing to look unrehearsed.

My advice to you, if you are going to be toasting, is practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. And definitely try to memorize. No notes or papers to fumble with. There is nothing worse than watching someone struggling to find their place with a bunch of crumpled papers. My biggest tip is this: Keep it short and sweet. You will rarely hear someone say, “I wish that toast had lasted longer.” On the other hand, how many times have you thought, “I’m glad that’s over. It went on forever”?

A little humor is always good, but make sure it’s appropriate and that you are comfortable being funny. Or start with the disclaimer like S. did, “My wife has informed me that I am not funny, so I won’t even try.” It got a laugh and S. milked it with a dramatic pause, which was quite effective. He was also well prepared thanks to my insistence that we say our parts to each other every free moment.

You can take a few other steps to ease you fears. Try if you really are interested in becoming more comfortable in front of audiences. If you want some ideas for your speech, try where you can buy, for the low, low price of 19.95, a heartfelt, memorable wedding tribute to ------- and --------- (insert couple names here).

Fellow toasters, I hope that any toast you make is fresh, never stale, and perfectly done.



Anonymous said...

Short and sweet, I must concur. Another thing I've noticed- if your toast has more I's than they or she or need to do a little more thinking about what you can add about the toastee and lose about the toaster

Big Shantz said...

if you're spkg at a wedding & you're "with" the bride, don't forget to mention the groom, & v.v. also, never mention how nervous you are - this will put everyone on edge, & invariably torpedo the vibe, which affects of said torpedoing will then be reflected back at you, not unlike headlights, before which you will become like a deer; your eyes will widen, your voice will start to shake, the lining of your throat to thicken. have i got your attention? also, think of the wedding band (not to mention the various wedding-hardened vets scattered throughout the room) - they've heard the same cookie cutter speech(es) every w/e for the past 7 years. so, like anonymous said, s. & s., emphasis on the second s., b/c even W-H Vs are suckers for some genuine s-ness.

Anonymous said...

Making a toast is often an opportunity for a person to have his or her 15 minutes of fame ---- at great cost to the captive audience. To all those who have the chance ----remember ---- "Speak up so you can be heard, stand up so you can be seen and shut up so you can be enjoyed."