Toasts are like sushi—when they’re good they’re great, but the bad ones will make you wish you were seated closer to the restroom.
And after a couple of years of social rust brought on by relative isolation, that line to the powder room could start to reach understaffed-DMV-during-peak-hours levels.
Not on Guinness’ watch.
Oh no, not with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner and folks everywhere thirsting for all the cheerful camaraderie that comes with it: a green wave of joy, gratitude, and celebration that has eluded us for two trying trips around the sun.
Come March 17 and beyond, toasts will be shared from Denver to Dublin, living rooms to barrooms, and Guinness is committed to making each clink of the glass more meaningful than ever.
By way of its Great Reunion Toast contest, Guinness is dishing out $50,000 in cash prizes to 20 different winners—that’s $1 million in total—to encourage people (21 and over) to capture the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day with a personalized toast of their own.
Just upload a video that proves you “embody the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and Guinness” (assuming you’re of legal drinking age and are able to film something that lasts no more than 30 seconds). Official rules at toast.guinness.com.
A no-brainer for anyone with a phone camera and a hankering for a heavenly dry stout, but the question still remains: Where to start?
Here are some tips and thought starters to deliver a toast that could win you enough green to pick up the tab for many St. Paddy’s Days to come.
Fill Your Glass!
This seems obvious, but it happens far too often.
Giving a toast with an empty glass is as distracting as speaking out of the wrong end of the microphone. It’s not only bad taste, but many believe it brings bad luck.
I’d go as far as to flag down the waiter in private and order another round for those in need to avoid this common conundrum. Proper preparation prevents poor performance. If you don’t respect the process, it won’t respect you.
Channel the Nerves
The pre-toast jitters are to be expected, and can actually fuel a captivating and compelling sentiment. But, if not managed, nerves can result in memory loss, sped-up speech, eye contact avoidance, and in worst cases, pant-wetting.
In the moments before go-time, head to the restroom, look in the mirror, and remind yourself of this unavoidable truth:
“You’ll stop caring what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.”
Odds are, on the way home from the gathering, most people won’t be dissecting the imperfections of your speech, they’ll be replaying going in for a hug as someone in your party offered a handshake.
Win the First Quarter
We live in a time when people get their news in 240 characters or less and have more streaming services than pairs of underwear. The war for attention is real, and to be frank, I’m shocked you’re still reading this. Good on you, friend.
Worry far less about delivering a convoluted introduction and more about setting up the theme you want to hammer home.
By the first 15-20 seconds, people have either fully bought in or are already on their third Wordle guess under the table.
Narrow the Scope
“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short one.”
A common impulse is to jam your toast with supporting details, but in reality, one methodically fleshed-out theme is more impactful than five vague themes packaged into one.
If you were only allowed to say one thing about your topic of choice, what would it be? Linger there, come at it from different angles, and if you need to veer away, do so strategically.
Replace ‘I’ Statements
You’re amazing and make the lives of the people you love exponentially better. Everyone already knows that.
Unless the subject of the toast has donated a vital organ to you, it’s typically best to voice the merits of the person as objective traits rather than how those traits benefited your life.
Broke: Patrick helped me through a tough breakup by dropping everything to sip Guinness at the bar. He even paid my tab.
Woke: Patrick is the kind of person who would drop everything to grab a Guinness with a friend after a tough breakup, and pay the tab when he’s in the bathroom.
Humor Is A Tool, Not The Entire Toolbox
“Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry.”
Funny for the sake of funny is like fast food—it’s great at the time, but in the end, it leaves you with very little nourishment.
Anchoring humor to profundity may be the most effective way to leave the biggest impact on those you’re speaking to. Remember your why. How does the funny bit play into the larger theme of who your subject is, why people love him, or what he stands for?
Nail Your Call To Action
Finishing strong is arguably more crucial than starting strong.
In your toast, you’ve likely touched on the past and present and substantiated why your subject(s) are worthy, now it’s time to voice your blessings for the future.
“To Patrick, the man with a heart full of warmth and a glass full of Guinness. May your future be as bright as your past.”
[Feign surprise after standing ovation]
Thanks for taking this journey with me, my friend. Have the greatest St. Patrick’s Day yet, and don’t forget to make a toast of your own. I’ll be accepting tips when you win.