1. CONNECT THE DOTS Creating a sense of connectivity will go a long way when presenting a speech. People may not remember every word you speak, but they will remember the feeling of community and togetherness you create.

2. SHARE THE MOMENT You may be delivering the speech, but it is not about you, even when it is. Minimize the use of “I” statements in your speech. That includes “me” statements as well. If the event is in your honor, use this time to show your appreciation to your guests and those who have been by your side.

3. STORYTIME After you have drawn the group together, you don’t want to lose them to their own thoughts, this speech is still yours to give after all. Take a moment in the spotlight by sharing a story, or two if you have time to fill, about you and the guest(s) of honor. It is okay to say “I” or “me” at this point, but keep it to a minimum.

4. TOAST, DON’T ROAST As you make your toast, it is important to consider your audience. Your audience and the type of event will determine how far you should go as you toast. Mild embarrassment of yourself or the persons you are toasting is acceptable, but keep it family friendly.

5. AU NATURALE Keep your toast fluid and sincere by leaving the script at home. If you tend to wander with your thoughts, or you are nervous about forgetting a point, narrow it down to bullet points that will keep you on track. When you read a speech, your voice lacks tone and you lose your audience.

6. PRACTICE SHOWS Practicing helps you find your rhythm and boosts confidence. Think of your toast as a performance. Great plays do not come together the day before opening. Take time to run through your speech, with or without an audience, before delivering it at the event.

7. ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE In addition to practicing for tone and authenticity, make sure to practice your body language. Approximately 55 percent of what we say is delivered through our body language. Practicing in front of a mirror will help you open up your body language, making you appear confident and amiable.

8. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE Make sure you understand how much time you will have to make your toast, and fill it. Going over is inconsiderate of those who also have toasts to make, but being severely under is just as bad. Whether you choose to work on pacing or have an additional story to share, be mindful of the clock.

9. SWEET ENDINGS The moment is here. You have brought everyone together into the same mental space. You have shared your stories, happy and sweet. Now is the culmination of all your hard work. Take a moment to thank the hosts and well-wish the guests of honor on behalf of everyone (remember your “we” statements), and tie it all up with the perfect clink.