Ever since I was a young girl, I have written cards and letters by hand to my loved ones telling them how much they mean to me. My favorite part is watching their reaction while they read my words. I now measure the impact of the message by the number of tears that fall down their faces. Even my two daughters ask whether my words inspired what they call “happy tears.”
In today’s techo-centric society, this type of heartfelt expression of emotion and gratitude is becoming more rare. Nowadays, instead of telling someone “I love you,” people are more apt to use a heart emoji. People are multi-tasking now more than ever before and cannot seem to find the time to have a conversation (texting doesn’t count!), let alone express how they truly feel about a person.
It’s not surprising that when people are called upon to give a speech or a toast, they may struggle to find the right words. People are out of practice expressing true emotion! That is why it’s so tempting to keep toasts light and humorous. But, speaking from the heart is undeniably what most people will remember. While there is certainly a place for tasteful jokes and stories, I always encourage people to think about what they want the audience to feel and remember after the party is over. Is it a funny joke you made? Or is it how you opened up and shared how you truly felt about the guest of honor?
With opportunities to emote slowly dwindling, figuring out how to express yourself doesn’t always come easy. Consider asking yourself the following types of questions:
How do I truly feel about the guest of honor?
How have you changed each other?
What really matters to him/her in life?
How has he/she made a difference in my life and in the lives of others?
How has he/she changed me as a person?
How does he/she make the world a better place?
If he/she had a tagline or hashtag for their character or how he/she lives life, what would it be?
What would be my advice for him/her moving forward?
Challenging yourself to dig deep and think about how you can best represent yourself and the guest of honor will go a long way in helping you express yourself and your emotions. Whether it is gratitude, admiration, love, respect or a combination of all, telling someone how you really feel is a gift from you to them. Doing it in front of an audience, while sometimes stressful, can make it even more meaningful.
Family and friends joke that I should have been a Hallmark card writer. Perhaps there is some truth in that. The best cards are those that accurately express what you want to say (without having to say it). And while I love a good Hallmark card, doing what I do—helping people find the right words to say what they feel—is a magical thing. And if the words happen to evoke tears, then I know I’ve done my job well.