Speak at Thanksgiving Dinner
Holidays bring celebrations and celebrations bring . . . speeches! We can be especially thankful for Toastmaster training when someone invites us to “say a few words before dinner.”
It’s wise to be prepared to speak just in case they ask. An opening, designed to earn the audience’s good will, a closing with a “call to action” or a toast, and a maximum of three talking points are all that’s needed. That’s about enough to fill one cocktail napkin with notes.
We memorize an opening, because, as George Jessel said, “the human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” We call that “brain freeze” in Toastmasters. We memorize the closing because that is where we too often amble about trying to finish up the speech; “to be heard you must speak up, but to be appreciated you must shut up!”
Our three talking points should be related by a theme. Common themes around Thanksgiving include:
Honor (those who serve so we may continue to live, for instance)
Resolution and Hope
You can include quotes to spark a little interest. For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I awoke this morning with a profound gratitude for my friends, the old and the new.” Or, include a humorous comment such as Erma Bombeck’s “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They take twelve minutes to consume. Half times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence.”
Being prepared helps – a lot. Waiting until after you have spoken to “have that little glass of wine” helps even more.
Remember that Thanksgiving speeches, and all holiday speeches in general, are not times for pointing out deficiencies, they’re times to appreciate the good. Jokes are great but guests shouldn’t be roasted – unless it’s the turkey.
Toastmasters training can help with fear of public speaking and with progress in the business world. It can also help during the most informal social events. Don’t ever decline to speak – the worst that can happen is that you’ll learn a lot. The best is appreciation and respect as well.