Photo courtesy of Brooks Brothers
I have heard that Toastmasters, a national organization centered around the art of public speaking, is having a rise in memberships as of late. Henry Alford's well-written article in the New York Times Style Section put the topic squarely in the spotlight a few days ago, and with New Year's Eve fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to focus on what can be a time filled with dread and fear-- the Toast. I first learned about the organization from a friend with polished social and oratory skills, I was surprised to hear he was participating in the art of toast-making skills. But the more I think about it, I too would like to improve my toasts, and learn secrets to getting up and making a memorable homages to a guest of honor. There is nothing as good as a heartfelt and funny toast to set the tone of an evening. But there is nothing worse than sitting down and feeling like your words went over like a lead balloon. Before I take that Toastmasters step, perhaps I will read up on the craft, and pick up a copy of the Brooks Brothers A Gentleman's Guide To Toasts and Tributes book, written by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. If someone dear to you gets sweaty palms and palpitations at the thought of getting up to speak in front of others, this book could ease the pain of what should be a festive glass-raising moment. The second half of the book touches on correspondence, so it provides indispensable advice on how to be gracious and show appreciation and can be of use to gals and guys. It might provide some helpful for the next time you are on the spot.