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How Do I Deliver a Really Good Toast at the Holiday Party?

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This story appears in the December 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You could say: "To all of you." Which is concise. You could say: "Without your work, where would we be?" Which is vaguely gracious. You could say: "Give yourselves a round of applause." Which buys time. You could say: "Deb. [pause] Deb, Deb, Deb, Deb, Deb." Which buys even more time and makes Deb feel fantastic.

If you say all that, then what you've got there is a toast. A real toasty toast. An empty, meaningless, limp toast. (Deb might disagree.) Which is fine. And also awful. Because toasts that are merely toasts are the worst toasts of all. A toast is an opportunity. It's a message. It's a tiny speech. And if it's good, people will remember it forever. But only if you keep one thing in mind: What you're really going for when you're toasting to a group of people at the holidays or any other time is (and we're having trouble even typing it): sentiment. When it comes to toasting, humor is overrated. Sentiment is the thing.

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