The gathering has had a great time. They’ve celebrated some occasion together with a good meal. And now, they are expected to listen to you give a speech! This is the after-dinner talk.
An after-dinner talk can be tough. Your audience is sated, which could also mean sleepy. They might want to get up from the table and network, flirt or just go home. So your audience is probably not as supportive of you as they might have been at another time. How do you engage them and make them feel the time spent listening to you was worth it?
Tips for developing an effective after dinner talk
Make your speech a dessert.
Your presentation should be story-based and humorous. Your story should be relatable and entertaining. Keep things light and sweet like a parfait.
Keep to the overall theme.
Your presentation should align perfectly with the occasion. If the gathering celebrates a successful season of basketball, then your story should relate to basketball or sports in some way.
Keep interaction low.
Remember, your audience has just eaten and possibly even consumed alcohol. They aren’t going to be good participators.
Was alcohol served during dinner?
You better not have consumed any! Also, you’ll need to keep your speech short … no longer than 14 minutes.
Prepare, Prepare and Practice.
The after-dinner speech is not the type of presentation you want to wing. This should be a tightly orchestrated speech, well crafted and well-rehearsed.
Yes, you want to have your presentation down as pat as you can. But you don’t want to use a script as a crutch. Things change. Know your opening and your closing verbatim. Know your stories well enough that you can give them well with impromptu adjustments.
Be aware of timing.
You want to give your talk before 11 pm. Why? The later in the evening, the more tired you and your audience will be. You want to have some energy when you give your speech, and you want your audience to have enough energy to be there with you, as well.
Resources for developing an effective after dinner talk
- 27 After Dinner Speech Topics and Tips From a Coach
- 10 After Dinner Speech Examples
- How To Deliver A Really Entertaining After Dinner Speech
- The seven golden rules of after-dinner speaking
- How to Write an After-Dinner Speech for a Competition
- How to Write an After Dinner Speech
- Video Example: After Dinner Speaker John Bell Gives After Dinner Speech
Did you miss these?
Here are the previous posts in this “Type of Speeches” series:
- The Keynote Address
- The Training Session
- The Motivational Speech
- The Entertaining Speech
- The Demonstration
- The Information Dump
- The Inspirational Speech
- The Q & A
- The Persuasive Speech
- The Impromptu Speech
- The Acceptance Speech
- The Commencement Speech
- The Eulogy
- The Toast
- The Roast
- The Interpretive Reading
- Presenting an Award
- Accepting an Award
The next post in this series is The Wedding Speech.