Tuesday, November 24, 2020

'TIS the Season for Toasts

Effectively, energetically giving a toast, raising a glass, honoring a holiday or person, is both an art and a science!

How so?

While most people say comments such as "Here's to Steve!", or "Cheers to a good night!", and those are alright to get through a step in recognizing a person or a time, those experiences are neither memorable nor thoughtful.

Toasting can seem rushed or even forced if there is no planning, and yet you want toasts to be from the heart. To bring timing and a plan together, think of 'tis the season (at all moments or days of the year) when you want to raise a glass and hear that "clink" of cheer.

Similar to how you can introduce a person with TIS (Topic, Importance to the Audience, and then Speaker credentials before that person's name), a fun, memorable toast has those three parts. Before a toast, ensure people all have had a chance to get water, soda, wine, or whatever they are drinking, and share your TIS with this twist:

T - Thanks/Today/This - Start your toast not by rattling a fork or spoon on a glass or yelling "Okay everyone" or "If I can get your attention", as those approaches can be jarring and even startling. An example that is compelling is to say something like "Thanks for joining us today", or "Today is a very special day for many reasons". The T in the TIS gets people attention in a positive way, and gives a reference for what is happening as it foreshadows where you are going!

I - Importance/Insights - Move from the T's connection aspect to the toast to the importance and insights about what or who you are raising your glass to celebrate. Without saying things such as "Everyone knows" and "Obviously", you can happily share some points about the individual or holiday such as "It's heartwarming to see how many people have been touched by one person here tonight".

S - Share who/what, specifically - Wrap up the toast with a clear statement of who/what is being honored. Yes, it is okay to say "So, let's smile and raise a glass to our host, Raji Patel", and another approach is to elaborate with adjectives or another context

An example for a virtual Thanksgiving toast is:

Thank you for joining us! Today is a special day for giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is traditionally about food, gathering, and sharing. While we have been eating good grub in our separate locations, and we are gathered differently this year, we are getting to share by staying connected.

So, with much appreciation for each of you, and gratitude for sharing this moment. Here's to each of you feeling loved and appreciated today and throughout the rest of the year! Happy Thanksgiving!

You may have noticed the lack of the word "I", and the focus on brevity and positivity, and those efforts are intentional for making everyone feel included and keeping to mood up! No matter with whom or how often you toast, make the 'tis the season lift come from your TIS approach!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lessons Learned: COVID-Safe Hosting

While I was concerned, and (perhaps overly) communicative about the 13th year anniversary of Bubbles, Baubles & Bling, where any/all women are welcome to join in on the post-birthday, pre-holiday Wednesday-before-the-Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving traditional after-hours shopping event held at one of my friend's boutique, it was a huge success because everyone was safe, kind, and part of a group experience that evoked feelings of less disconnected & more hopeful!

Lessons learned personally & through attendee feedback include:

Come from a place of care and safety in the invitation and the overall event experience when you host something for 1-2 hours maximum, as keeping clear and brief in both your plan and the time keeps everyone from a sense of further "fatigue".

Ensure everyone knows the rules of engagement in regards to mask, how masks are worn, whether guests are welcome, and more with clear guidelines and communicate via phone, text and email what is expected ahead of time without apology or a sense of it won't be as good. You can even have a fun mask competition with a prize (we did, and it added to the positivity around the masks).

Greet everyone personally to be certain there is no miscommunication before someone is "in" the event.

Have a kind, professional, swift plan for if someone rejects or disrespects the guidelines.

Do not serve food and drink (I served mini bottles of water and champagne with straws to place under masks, and now do not recommend any food or drink to avoid confusion on keeping masks on).

Do not be disappointed, mad, or disrespectful when someone chooses not to participate from the start, or even close to last-minute (normally there is a 5-day cancellation consideration), if something happens regarding the pandemic cases and/or their comfort.

Be clear in any and all sharing of the event (before, during, after) that all guidelines were followed, without additional apology or explanation so the message is clear, concise and focused on positivity and gratitude.

Missing out fully may be your choice. Having a virtual option may be best. If you decide to host an in-person event, please consider safety over tradition and health over the desire to be unencumbered. No matter what you do, here's to health and happiness without any complications!