1. Unless you’re the master of ceremonies, you should have a personal connection with the person being toasted. Otherwise, everyone will know that you’re just playing a role and your participation won’t enhance the event.

      2. Even if you intend to speak “off the cuff” or just use some notes, it’s still wise to initially write out your toast in full. This will enable you to edit, organize and time your material.

      3.  Even short toasts should be rehearsed out loud. In addition to letting you know how it sounds, rehearsing out loud allows you to identify and avoid cumbersome phrasing or words that you might have difficulty pronouncing.

      4. Keeping the toast both relevant and interesting will allow you to avoid the most common problem with toasts, which is rambling irrelevancy.

      5. It’s always appropriate to include information establishing a personal relationship between you and the person being toasted.

      6. There is no toasting situation in which telling a joke is appropriate. However, it is appropriate to include an amusing anecdote involving the person being toasted if it helps establish your personal relationship.

      7. Never include anything after which you would have to say “just kidding.”

      8. The length of a toast depends on the nature of the event. If your toast is one of many, keep it short; not more than a minute or two. On the other hand, when toasting a bride or groom, it’s perfectly acceptable to speak for up to five minutes provided that your remarks are both relevant and interesting.

      9. Don’t look at the person you’re toasting until the very end of your toast. Instead, make eye contact with all parts of the audience until you ask them to join you in the toast. Then raise your glass, turn to the person being toasted, and conclude your remarks, emphatically and clearly, with “To the bride!” or “To Harry!”

     10. After you take your sip (chug-a-lugging is unseemly), shut up and return to your seat.