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After Dinner Speeches

The world of after dinner speeches is no longer the preserve of media starlets looking to make a buck out of their 15 minutes of fame. Thanks to our digital super age experts, professionals and entertaining people are much easier to find and communicate with, so many more people are entering the fray, which can only be a good thing.

With so many different industries, charities and organisations asking such a wide variety of speakers to work with them, the demands on the speaker and the speech can be hugely different. Making a speech to to the Boiler Maker’s Association is always going to have a different feel to the speech for the Bayeux Tapestry Appreciation Group. So understanding your audience is crucial, but there are many more things to think about and below I’ve given some joints, tips and good old fashioned opinion on after dinner speeches.

Be original...

The vibrant after dinner speaking scene demands originality because the internet has made everyone all too aware of just what poor one liners are all about and how not to use them. Nothing will compromise your speech more quickly than relying on google for your humour. They’ve heard them all a million times before and it just disappoints.

There is humour to be found in everything we do, see, eat, follow, love and hate. You just need time to think about it. Classically an after dinner speech will demand some great anecdotes so there’s plenty of opportunity to get some great lines in there. Think carefully about the wording, pace and pauses to give it some humour, and consider how to link these stories in an amusing way. Very often the thread that you dream up to tie them together can be the funniest part.

So, if you’re in the process of googling after dinner speech jokes, then stop. At best they’re weak, not very inventive and unfunny. Instead look closer to home for the real comedy.

6 things to think about when writing an after dinner speech

Every speech is of course different but there are some elements to all good after dinner speeches.

  • Length – you are the entertainment and generally speaking maybe one of only two speakers, so anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Humour – this will obviously be audience specific but every speech is better for it. Some organisations are happy with edgy, some are not. Check.
  • Anecdotes – this is one type of speech that demands them. The more the merrier.
  • Introduction – You’ve almost certainly been introduced so avoid doubling up on this by having an intro outlining who you are.
  • Outcome – really focus on what it is this speech is for. Is it entertainment, inspiration or motivation?
  • Ending – needs to be a clear build up and then cut. Meandering, limp finales are to be avoided.

4 Questions to ask yourself when writing an after Dinner Speech

In order to make this speech fly you need to know everything that’s relevant to know about the organisation which has invited you to speak and the audience present. Every speaker needs a go-to person from that organisation who can answer any question you may have, so look professional and hit them with all your queries in one go. Below are the type of things you should be asking. Audience – age, sex, employees or outside guests.
  • Length – check to see if they have specific timings to hit.
  • Purpose – get an outline idea of what they want this speech to achieve.
  • Comedy – check if they want edgy, gentle or none at all.
  • Thanks – check if they need any senior members referencing in the speech.

8 points to consider for first time After Dinner Speakers

With such an influx of new and exciting speakers on the after dinner circuit, there are clearly going to be one or two novices amongst them when it comes to public speaking. Some will have had great experience of giving corporate speeches but this is a million miles away from that type of communication – it is much more a form of entertainment and you need to loosen the tie a little.Below are a few things that should help nervous first timers and some corporate old campaigners.

  • Look happy – easier to engage with, like and laugh along to.
  • Pace – keep it purposeful and steady, never be tempted to rush.
  • Eye contact – make them feel wanted and engaged, they’ll love you for it.
  • Shaky hands – find something to grip or lean on.
  • Alcohol – a couple of gentle drinks are great, getting hammered isn’t.
  • Water – keep a large glass of water with you at all times.
  • Pauses – an entertaining speech needs a lot of week timed pauses.
  • Memorising – first time round just read through many times and use prompt cards After that you’ll be able too sing it.

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