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The Mark of a Good After Dinner Speaker


If you’ve ever listened to an after dinner speaker then the chances are that you were able to tell relatively quickly whether they were any good at it. You either enjoyed the speech or you didn’t. But when the tables are turned and you are the after dinner speaker, or the person responsible for hiring one, it suddenly becomes a little more difficult to know a good speaker from a bad one.

Making an after dinner speech is entirely different from making a business or educational presentation, for example at a meeting. It has a whole different set of rules and requirements and if you, or whoever is speaking, don’t follow them then you’ll know about it.

Of course, the whole point of the after dinner speaker is to entertain. They might inform or even persuade as well but the speech should be nothing if not entertaining. To this end there needs to be the right balance of humour with substance and information.

A speech after dinner is no time to use props or Powerpoint presentations. An after dinner speaker should be able to rely on their own wit to make the speech entertaining. Save Powerpoint for the meeting room. When there is some need to illustrate a point, anecdotes should suffice.

Sometimes an after dinner speaker will want to use handouts. The general consensus is that doing so is best avoided as it gives too business like a feel to proceedings. If an after dinner speaker simply must use handouts then they are best given out afterwards because nothing distracts the audience’s attention away from the speaker like reading a handout.



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