3 Insights for Handling Event Toasts & Impromptu Speeches

February 20, 2023 Jessica Stewart

New York event planners like you are masters at handling every event detail. And it’s all about being prepared for any surprise scenarios or challenges that may arise. So, if your conference or event calls for a surprise award or recognition, you’ll want to prepare those involved for giving an incredible and engaging speech. When it’s time to toast or say a few words, event planners can prepare ahead of time and coach their event clients with tips for hitting a home run at the mic.

Share the Acronym 

Before your event, talk with your clients about preparing for monumental speech opportunities. A poorly delivered toast or acceptance speech can overshadow an event. And you don’t want guests walking away, talking about someone’s massive blunders at the mic. One quick reference set of tips involves the acronym definitions for “T-O-A-S-T.”

T: Tell a story as a speech opener.

O: Optimism is the best way to start and end a toast.

A: Authenticity and even vulnerability are better than forced humor.

S: Speech practice is essential whenever possible.

T: Timing matters, and shorter toasts and speeches are best.

The Do’s of Event Toasts

The excitement of a surprise speech has its perks. So, while you don’t want to over-prepare with scripts and teleprompters for those exciting moments, you can still coach your clients with some tips and insights for delivering brilliant speeches. Provide some guidelines about stage presence best practices and toasting etiquette so those who are expected to speak to feel comfortable being themselves. Here are some of those best practices to add to your toasting cheat sheet.

Be yourself, and remember it’s just a conversation with peers and friends.

  • Stay confident and speak clearly into the mic.
  • Make eye contact and smile often.
  • Jokes are always welcome; just keep them clean.
  • Tell stories that have a great hook.
  • Be thankful and encourage the audience to thank the hosts with you.
  • Keep your speeches short and free of long-winded tangents.

The Don’ts of Event Speeches

Most toasting and speech professionals will tell you never to start your speech with “I” or “my name is.” In reality, event guests don’t care too much about you. Instead, lead with a story or a strong hook about the moment, the guest of honor, or the event surprise award. Here are a few other “don’ts” to avoid that you can coach your client with to dodge any other hiccups at the mic.

  • Don’t leave out the juicy details.
  • Don’t deliver like everyone else’s speeches.
  • Don’t read word for word.
  • Don’t dwell on superlatives like “the best, the greatest, or the smartest.”
  • Don’t be apologetic or list off reasons why the speech isn’t good
  • Don’t drop cliches 
  • Don’t forget about your body language and non-verbal cues

As you plan your next New York conference or event, be prepared for impromptu speeches and toasts. Coach your event clients on how to deliver the best and most memorable. 

For more insights about event planning techniques and strategies, make sure you’re in the room with all the top industry pros at The Event Planner Expo 2023! Learn more today about available exhibitor space and sponsorship opportunities!

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