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Types of Speeches: The After Dinner Talk

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If you decide to become a professional speaker or use speaking as an integral part of your marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various types of speeches you might be asked to give. In this series of posts, I’ll give you the basics on a variety of types of presentations you can prepare. At the end of this post, I’ve listed previous articles in this series.


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!

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. You 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.

Don’t Over-prepare.
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 11pm. 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

Did you miss these?
Here are the previous posts in this “Type of Speeches” series:


The next post in this series is The Wedding Speech.

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About the author

Carma Spence, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Superpowers and turning their knowledge and interests into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her website is CarmaSpence.com.