Earlier in the week I read a blog about a Maid of Honour’s duties and of course, one of these would be giving a speech. All through the article, the author interchanged “speech” with “toast” without even blinking. It reminded me of several functions and events where I had the same issue: people don’t realize that these words have different meanings and different roles during an event.

What does the dictionary say? Speech: a formal address or discourse delivered to an audience. Toast can be used as follows: “propose a toast”: ask a group of people at a social occasion to drink to the health and happiness of a specified person or “drink to”: celebrate or wish for the good fortune of someone or something by raising one’s glass and drinking a small amount….

A bit cumbersome, right? Not really. The main difference between the 2 words is that the speech is usually a longer, more elaborate discourse that can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes or more while the toast is a short phrase at the end of the speech, raising the glass and taking a sip. A toast should look like this:

 

And the speech:

 

Well, don’t beat yourselves too hard if you didn’t know the difference! President Obama learned it the hard way this year when visiting with the Queen. As the Protocol dictates, President Obama proposed a toast to honour the Queen. Everybody was standing, he toasted the Queen, which prompted the orchestra to start playing God Save the Queen, but instead of taking the hint and stopping right there, Mr Obama thought the Oscar Ceremony followed him to Britain and continued to talk… over the National Anthem… Thankfully the Queen graciously overlooked the incident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNRXGRFJdDY