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Ten Toasting Tips

By Deborah Rinner Godwin

1. Be brief. Less can be more in a business toast. Keep it at sixty seconds. Choose your thoughts and words carefully to express your intention well. In doubt about what to say? Toasting to longevity, health, or prosperity of a person or organization is always appropriate.

2. The host is responsible for the toast. The toast can be given before the meal to welcome the guests, or be offered at the time of the dessert course. Choose a time the person you are toasting is at their seat. Toasting may be done with any beverage, but should be in a formal setting (not over coffee with paper coffee cups).

3. At a table of more than eight, the host (toaster) should stand to signify the beginning of the toast and to get everyone’s attention. If in a restaurant standing may be disruptive to onlookers, so decide situationally if standing is appropriate.

4. A good toast thanks the guest(s) of honor, demonstrates something special about the guest of honor(s) or occasion, and then expresses “please join me in a toast to….” Everyone takes a sip except the person being toasted. A good toast is not an embarrassment, but a tribute.

5. A toast is like a gift. If you receive one, you return one. After being toasted, a person toasts the host or original toaster in return. This time the host or original toaster does not take a sip.

6. A sip is a sip. In American business culture, downing ones glass is never advisable.

7. To clink or not to clink? If you do it is a gentle tap of one glass to the next, keeping at your seat. Make eye contact while clinking and share the moment. Never run around the table to clink. Follow the lead of your dining companions and do not be the first to clink. Clink, don’t clash. Be gentle as to the fragility of glassware.

8. A formal toast is “semi-public” and not appropriate at an intimate dinner. If you are at an informal or casual meal with a client, it is celebratory to offer an informal “Glad to have you here” or “Here’s to you”, refraining from a more formal toast. Toasting at breakfast is not done.

9. If you are working internationally learn the toasting customs of the country you are working with and be prepared. Properly engaging in the toasting custom can be vital to building a successful business relationship.

10. You will appear confident, caring, and be perceived as a leader if you take the initiative to properly toast.