Don’t tell me! Someone mentioned they were looking for an after dinner speaker for an important event and you, in a moment of weakness or sheer madness, said you would do it. And now, as the evening rapidly approaches, you have swallowed a little of your precious pride and decided to seek help or search for some speech material you might us. Am I right?
Let me begin by saying this, if it is of any consolation, you are not the first and most certainly won’t be the last to put your mouth into gear before engaging your brain http://itsnews.co.uk/ . Many years back, flattered by friends who said I was a natural comedian, I did exactly the same and what follows are some of my best top tips to make the coming event a little less daunting, and hopefully help you by describing some of the basic mistakes I made in those early days whilst dying as an inexperienced, after dinner speaker.
Many people, including some of my friends, believe comedians are born funny and then somehow become a natural, polished, humorous entertainer. Nothing is further from the truth. Some top, after dinner speakers develop their skill as children as a method of dealing with school bullies, and the everyday anguish growing-up causes so many of us in those terrible teenage times. For far too many, school is not the best days of your life as described by those for whom time has distorted the truth; but a living hell, made a little easier by learning to make others laugh as a means of defense.
Some of the best after dinner speakers on the professional circuit began studying the subject after realising how powerful a tool it is in entertaining and amusing a captive audience, in convivial company, after a meal. The fact that others were prepared to pay money to have someone make others laugh would, initially, have been a bonus, and later, with lots of experience and ‘gigs’ under their belt, an effect way to earn a living.
For those amongst you who are thinking about using after dinner speaking as a means of making a living, my advice is to carefully consider whether your dream could ever become a reality. Professional, after dinner speaking is one of the most difficult occupations in which to earn a decent living. There are lots of after dinner speakers out there offering their polished skill as a service, and relatively few speaker engagements available to ply their trade.
Most after dinner speakers are hired through an agent. The difficulty for those wanting to become an after dinner speaker is that agents are only interested in established, quality, popular speakers with a proven ability to give an after dinner speech.
Such after dinner speakers have so much experience; they no longer have ‘off days’. Their reputation for excellence is already in place, and this removes the element of chance that event organisers take when engaging a less experienced, amateur, after dinner speaker. What event organisers gain in cash saving is insignificant when compared to their potential loss of reputation with which they gamble when engaging cheap amateurs.
If you are considering giving after dinner speeches as a profession, please believe me when I say that being a successful, fulltime, professional after dinner speaker is seriously hard work and is a dream that is, for most, very difficult to achieve. In regard to quality of life, it will mean many late nights, often away from home and your loved ones. The occupation of after dinner speaker is not nearly as glamorous as some would imagine. It can be an extremely tiring and demanding occupation with variable rewards.
If, all that said, you are still interested in how to give an effective, entertaining after dinner speech, perhaps as a one-off or hobby, what follows are my best, top tips:
I begin by offering some reassurance – most audiences make allowances for a courageous amateur doing his or her best to entertain them. They often hold a ‘better them than me’ attitude.
A survey carried out in America showed that more people fear public speaking than death. Which, I guess means, that at a funeral, Americans would rather be the individual lying in the coffin than the poor soul providing the eulogy to the mourners!