So you have been invited to deliver an after-dinner speech, be it for a corporate dinner, a product launch, an academic event, or other similar gatherings.
You know very well that what you say at an after-dinner speech can – and most often will – be held against you, and this is a definite cause for concern.
But, fortunately, there are ways to make your after-dinner speech memorable and entertaining at the same time without having to go through a nervous breakdown.
You simply have to keep some tips in mind to arrest your audience and leave them with something that makes an impact.
The joke’s on you – or is it?
It’s easy to fall back on classic jokes when asked to deliver an after-dinner speech. So the question for you is: should you deliver a joke at the beginning or not?
But your purpose is to entertain and perhaps inform, so rather than a joke, it would be better to have a story with a surprise (or at least curious or interesting) ending.
You can augment this with some personal anecdotes or metaphors to make it more interesting as well.
A speech in three acts
Give your speech a middle, an interesting point or surprise, and end it with a laugh. Make it a kind of three act performance. Act one could be the setting up of your topic, and act two could be the telling of events that produce a question or conflict.
Act three could be the resolution to this conflict or question. But it is also important to begin with a personal anecdote or story that will engage your audience from the start.
Writing down your speech
Writing a speech down on paper is a good solution, especially if you are afraid that your memory will fail you at a critical moment.
But when you do write down your speech, write it not for the audience’s eyes, but for their ears. Your audience will be listening to you and not reading what you have prepared.
But in order to be more organised with your written speech, have it transcribed professionally by a company specialising in transcription services, such as Alphabet Secretarial (learn more about their services at http://www.alphabetsecretarial.co.uk).
When you have your speech transcribed, you can have it verbatim or just an outline of the most salient points. Either way, you have something to refer to, and, as a bonus, you can have the transcription distributed to your audience afterwards.
And in writing down your speech, another tip is to read a part of it aloud, and have someone listen to you. If you find that your choice of words is confusing or you have difficulty saying some words, make your sentences shorter and your vocabulary simpler.
Another tip when you are transcribing your speech is to use slashes or dashes to either pause or emphasise a point.
If you want to have a long pause, then use a double dash, and if you want to smile at the end of a point, use a ‘smiley face’ icon.
Make it informative, but don’t drown your audience in facts
Of course you want to come across as an authority figure whilst delivering your speech and not just a form of entertainment after dinner. But when preparing your speech, do not gather too many facts.
Instead, confine your message’s focus to one major point reinforced by two or three secondary points.
Make your point easy to understand and simple, and, at the end of the day, your audience will have had not only a riotous and interesting time, but a memorable time as well.