Here’s to 2013!

December 31st, 2012   •   no comments   

As 2012 comes to an end, we are faced with religious holidays and New Year’s Eve – all times to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next.

What a great time to write down the highlights of the year – good and bad – and think about the lessons learned from those experiences.

Do you hope to live more in the moment? Plan more for the future?

Will you let go of bad memories and vow to make new, happier ones?

Instead of just saying “Cheers” at your next celebration, take out 1-3 of the life lessons you learned this year. And start off with “May we all…” and then end with “cheers.”

It will make the event more meaningful and help you make public your lessons. This will both humble you by showing you can always learn from the past, and bring you hope by saying aloud what you want for the future.

The power of speaking the truth aloud – whether good or bad – is one of the must underrated parts of the toast. I think that many people become nervous about speaking, and hesitate to do so, because they subconsciously understand this power.

But few acknowledge it. And it is a good thing. Here’s mine:

“May we all tell those we love that we love them more often, because we never know when they will leave us.

May we all take charge of the messes in our life so that they do not stop us from moving forward.

And may we all grab the opportunities put before us and not be afraid to see where they take us.


Cheers Heard ‘Round The World

November 19th, 2012   •   no comments   

The holiday season is upon us! Halloween kicks it off with Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve fast on its heels.

‘Tis the season for toasts.  What are you going to say? Unlike event toasts, a holiday toast is usually short and sweet, taking only seconds. In fact, “cheers” is probably as good as anything.

Click here for how to say “Cheers” (or their version of it) in 50 languages!

Start memorizing the Azerbaijani (Nush ohlsun), Icelandic (Sk-owl), and Thai (Chok dee) versions before you hit your party circuit.


Put It In Writing

October 3rd, 2012   •   no comments   

After all of these months of discussing toasts, the question still remains: What do you do after the last toast is made, the last drink downed?

All of that work – writing, editing, practicing, stressing – and now it’s all forgotten?

God forbid!

Here are a few ideas for preserving your words:

  • Print out the toast on nice cardstock (thick paper), cut the edges with pinking shears or craft scissors, decorate the edges with gold/silver ink or paint, adhere to craft paper in the couple’s wedding colors, add photos of the couple. You can either frame this for them or make it into a page that fits into their scrapbook or photo album of the event.
  • Hire calligrapher (Google it! Or ask your church, local art organization, or stationery story) to write the toast on nice cardstock, incorporating the couple’s wedding colors in the ink or the paper. Frame with coordinating matting that you sign as the author. You can also include photo of the couple toasting, or a pressed flower from your corsage or the centerpieces.
  • Print out the toast (or use the calligraphy version!) as the cover for a photo album with advice on married life to the new couple…or better yet, “10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Got Married.”

Anyone out there do something else with theirs?

Key to Success: Edit Ernest-ly

September 4th, 2012   •   no comments   

The first draft of anything is sh-t.

-Ernest Hemingway

Write, read aloud, edit, repeat…repeat…repeat…

When writing a speech, whether a short toast or a 30-minute lecture, make the time to read the speech aloud and edit and edit and edit. Even Ernest Hemingway acknowledged that not even a genius can write a perfect first draft.

You are looking for the following when you read aloud:

  • Storytelling – Does the talk have a beginning, a middle and an end? Yes, even a 2-minute toast.
  • Ease of Delivery – Do you stumble over a particular word or turn of phrase?
  • Eye Contact – Are you comfortable enough with the text to lift your eyes up and look around?
  • Audience Reaction – Is the test audience laughing/crying/applauding where you expect? Are they looking at your or looking around?

When editing, don’t force a line to work after 2-3 tries…sometimes you have to use the “delete” key …even on your favorite line.

It will only hurt for a minute…

In fact, you can post your favorite line that you couldn’t use in the space below! I’ll start with one of my most recent ones:

“We have survived Civil Wars, World Wars and Culture Wars. This is nothing but a skirmish in our history. We will certainly survive this assault on our economy.”

Speaker stumbled over “Culture Wars” (say it 3 times fast…it is difficult). Every time he backtracked and said it right, but he just could not say it straight through…Dang…

Beware the Baijiu!

August 23rd, 2012   •   no comments   

Found this interesting tidbit from the U.S.-China Business Council on toasting etiquette in China:

  • Toasting: Toasting is an indispensable component of the Chinese banquet and it begins when the principal host offers a welcoming toast. Toasts are typically short (2 to 4 minutes) and may consist of a simple welcome, a brief statement filled with platitudes, or a substantive comment on the visit. Chinese rarely hold their glass at shoulder length when toasting, it is considered respectful to try and toast your glass lower than other’s glasses.
  • Alcohol Cautions: Several types of liquor are traditionally served at Chinese banquets (beer, wine, and baijiu (a potent liquor, of which the most famous brand is Maotai). Glasses are kept full during the meal to allow for toasting. Beer and wine may be sipped, but baijiu is traditionally downed at once like a western “shot” in toasts with the Chinese guests. The Chinese toast “gan bei” literally means “dry glass.” However, the tradition of emptying one’s glass at each toast is being tempered in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai where Western business etiquette has been more widely accepted. Increasingly, wine (frequently mixed with soda) is becoming the primary toasting drink in major cities. If you find yourself in a situation where baijiu is served, it is acceptable to drink less than the whole glass by saying “ban bei” (half a shot) or “sui yi” (as you wish). It is also possible to beg out of drinking alcohol entirely by saying that you have an allergy or simply explaining that you do not drink. It also is acceptable to toast with a clear carbonated drink like 7-Up or Sprite; just let the waiter know quietly that this is what you would like to do. If you are being hosted at a dinner (not a banquet) you often will be asked to choose what you would like to drink. Western drinks and social habits are becoming the norm in many ways, and are accepted in most urban areas, however, it is advisable to handle such situations by stating your preferences as food and drink are ordered.

Anyone know toasting etiquette from another culture?


If You Can’t Say It, Write It

August 7th, 2012   •   no comments   

Wedding toasts, as we’ve previously discussed, can be nerve wracking for the one expected to deliver this emotionally charged two minutes.

The key issue is usually due to the pressure you put on yourself to perform perfectly and to summarize a lifetime of memories into less than 500 words. That’s when my clients turn to me – I help keep them calm and focused.

If you are anticipating having to give such a toast, I recommend that you buy an inexpensive spiral notebook to write down all of the advice, memories and other thoughts cluttering your mind. This info can be beautifully crafted into a nice book for a great gift after the happy couple returns from their honeymoon.

You can either write short stories – how you met your spouse, or a funny story about the first Thanksgiving dinner you cooked as a married couple – or just clip out one-line pieces of advice – “Don’t go to bed mad.” You can scrapbook the advice around wedding photos, baby photos and high school pics of the couple.

The key is not to overwhelm yourself during this special time. Professional scrapbookers and writers can be hired for a small fee!


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