Perhaps employees are finding more reasons to say “Cheers!” these days, given the recent news that Americans are now popping the most bottles of champagne annually since 2007.

Business dinners and toasts go hand-in-hand, as employees gather at restaurants to celebrate successfully completed projects, new clients, venture capital funding and even employees’ personal milestones, such as birthdays, engagements or retirement.

If you’ve been designated the toast-giver at a business dinner, or if you’re volunteered to give one against your will, prepare yourself by mentally noting the five tips below, and give your best toast ever.

If you’re hosting, you’re toasting. Traditionally, the host or hostess of a dinner offers the first toast at large functions, according to Etiquette Scholar. For business dinners held around a project or event, this person may be the CEO or project director, regardless of who sent the email invitation for the dinner. However, for retirement and other more personal celebrations, the closest friend of the guest of honor can start the toast.

Have a simple toasting word in mind. Build your toast speech around one word, the word you’ll say right before you clink glasses at the end of your speech. Then work backwards to make the whole toast about that subject. For example, toast to goodwill, work, success, growth, friendship, teamwork, realizing dreams or meeting goals.

Keep it short. Consider the hunger of your guests, the temperature of their drinks and their attention spans when you make your speech. Keep your toast at a minute or less, unless the occasion is formal, and you’re the only one giving a toast.

Introduce your toast in the right way. Wait until everyone’s glasses are filled with something – water is fine – and stand and raise your glass to get everyone’s attention. Only bang your knife on a glass as a last resort.

Leave the sarcasm at home. A toast is a feel-good speech, not a roast. You can utilize humor in your toast, but make sure it conveys the right message, which is “celebration.” Use phrases that bring people into the toast, such as “Please join me in celebrating…” or mention the “team.”

Know what to do after “Cheers.” When you’ve finished your speech, take a sip of your drink after the toast; don’t down the entire glass. If applicable, allow time for more team members to speak or for a guest of honor to stand and thank you or the group.

Do you have additional suggestions that will help others toast confidently at a business dinner? Share them in the comments below. 

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