If you’re standing up in a wedding this month – here’s another look at THE BEST WEDDING TOAST EVER… Deedee’s toast as maid of honor to her big sister, Maggie, the bride, and Paul, the groom. (Tips on how she did it at the end.)
“I wasn’t ready to give up my big sister Maggie. But I’ve had a year to think about it and I guess I can. When Maggie and I were very little, we shared a big yellow room and slept in the same bed. We had a witch in the closet. Yes, we were sure we had a witch in the closet. But Maggie, my big sister, would hold my hand and say it would be all right and I would fall asleep. (Pause) And so, Paul, (referring to the groom) make sure you hold Maggie’s hand at night and you’ll be able to sleep.
Then we got a little older. Now we had bunk beds—mine was on the bottom and Maggie’s on top. At this time we had a lot of stuffed animals and mine were always all over the floor (Sorry, Mom!) but Maggie’s were always lined up on her bed and she would kiss them all goodnight and call them each by name every night. It would drive me nuts. But finally she would end and all would be quiet – and at just that time I would ask her for a cup of water. Now I was on the bottom bunk, but every night (and I asked every night) Maggie would get me a Dixie cup of water. Why I never thought of doing it myself I’ll never know. (Pause) And so, Paul, if you get thirsty, Maggie will bring you a cup of water.
Then we got a little older. It was middle school and we were competing for things. Maggie always managed to leave the house with some clothing item of mine, and I never noticed until we got to school. (Pause) And so Paul, watch your favorite clothes because Maggie will find a way to wear them.
Then we got a little older. And as you all can see and know, Maggie is beautiful and kind and has a lot of friends. And so in high school she was everything: prom queen, homecoming queen – everything. Then it came time for Turnabout Dance Queen’s Court nominations. And I was nominated to the Freshman Court and Maggie was the Junior Court nominee. When the winner was announced, it was again, Maggie – but at that moment she came over to me and gave me the queen’s sash and said,” You’re the most beautiful one here. You deserve this.” (Pause) And so Paul, Maggie will always give you something if she thinks you deserve it.
Maggie, I thought I was not ready to share you. I missed the sister who held my hand. And then I realized, Paul, that Maggie has two hands.”
Thanks to Deirdre Sweeney for this winning example of how repetition can create the impact for a story. Like Deedee, you too can allow the storyteller in you to
• Fully explore the emotion of the story. A story ties head to heart. Use the natural heart-tug of the story to make your point. Never apologize for the emotion of the story.
• Let the audience experience it with you. Pause. Repeat. Use gesture. Connect with your eyes. Remember your kindergarten class – how you listened to the teacher as she made the pages come to life.
• Repeat a theme throughout the story. The listener likes the repetition.
Where and how can you develop new stories? Look at your life and your recent positive experiences. (Complaining stories are pretty boring.) Then add a bit of this and a bit of that and you’ll start to build a repertoire. Make sure to add details to the story such as “The moon was full” or “I was just sitting there looking forward to a quiet flight” or “She looked over at me with that arched eyebrow of recognition.” Details make the story.