Top tips to starting out as an after dinner speaker

Starting your own business and be the driver of your own destining isn’t always all about setting up a production plant, buying a going concern or franchise. Some people are naturally gifted with eloquent tongues to entertain audiences. So if you are one of those and wondering how to go about exploring this lucrative potential to become a professional speaker, then this article is just a perfect one for you. Take it or leave it, the after dinner speaking circuit has become a lucrative business for those who can be relied on to deliver wit and wisdom along with the cognac. On an average, a popular after dinner speaker can now command up to £16,000+ for a mixture of anecdote, humour and homily at.

Developing public speaking skills

In general, the after dinner speakers are the highlight of the evening parties and they put all their efforts to make the event colourful and unforgettable. As an after dinner speaker, you must have the skill set to combine intelligence, humour, charisma and entertainment into one thing which is basically to entertain the audience in an event. To become the best after dinner speaker you must have the skill and ability to capture the attention of the audience in a matter of seconds and keep them engaged with your speech throughout the event.

Must be humorous

Humours play a crucial role in an event to attract and maintain the attention of the audience. So, to become a successful after dinner speaker you must have a sense of humour, which is apt for the audience and event.

Must be intelligent

Intelligence is another crucial factor that an after dinner speaker must have. The speech you will prepare for dinner events must have value for the audience. Being an after dinner speaker you must focus on conveying intelligence which is credible and worthwhile for the audience. However, the intelligence you will convey must be entertaining too for the audience.

Must entertain

 Audiences don’t like to be lectured to. So, you need to entertain them to capture their attention immediately. The first 10 to 15 minutes is very crucial for the speakers. So, the opening of the speech must be appealing, motivating and informative to keep the audience engaged. Being the speaker you need to judge what will and will not work for the target audience and address them accordingly to make the vent successful.

Success tips to be successful

Top tips to starting out as an after-dinner speaker1. Building experience

 No matter how talented you may be as a starter, it is quite unfortunate that you will not be able to buy experience. So, you will need to start from somewhere and grow gradually with time. Volunteering to speak at local events, charitable organizations, community centres or during business meetings will be a great way to gain on the field experience. In additional to volunteering, you might also consider joining an agency. There are several agencies that specialize in connecting conference organizers with after dinner speakers, handling fee negotiations, event scheduling, and other important details, allowing you to concentrate on preparing your speeches and presentations. Joining one or more of these agencies might help you to get more experience and perfecting your skill set.

2. Create a professional website

 You are going to need a website as a point of contact and on the other hand publish your works. It’s all about branding, so create a professional website and keeping in mind the overall user experience you will like your clients and fans to enjoy using your website.

3. Design a business card

 Your business card should match your website design overall branding and contain whatever title you have given yourself. Try to be consistent with your branding, it’s about message and positioning.

4. Training and certification

 Take classes in public speaking if necessary to gain more skill and recognition. Individuals can gain public speaking skills by taking formal classes in any subject of interest. There are crash public speaking courses offered by colleges/universities or other schools which provide information about delivering persuasive speeches, incorporating body language, using technology, and fielding audience questions.

How to exceed audience expectations?

Know your audience: Do your research if you really want to connect with your audience. By understanding the market sector of the firm you are speaking to, or the group of individuals that are attending the event, the better your speech will resonate with their viewpoint. Winning over the audience is half the battle. Check out with your hosts what they are looking for and whether you can link your talk to your audience’s interests. Having an insider view will impress. So, set aside time to research all the eventualities

Avoid over relying on text: Build and deliver your speech into what suits the occasion. The best after dinner speakers use notes with headings which give them the ability to connect with the audience and interpret what they want to hear is the most important thing. Remember to keep an eye on your audience, giving you a good measure of where to go next in your speech.

Keep to time: Some of the best speeches last just 10 minutes, however the majority tense to last longer. Great speeches have a combination of content, humanity and humour and often resemble the best theatre, keeping an audience on the edge of the seats with a mixture of surprise and suspense.

Practice your speech: Speak slowly and clearly and moderate your tone and don’t be afraid to pause to allow people to think about your point or laugh at your jokes. Control your breathing and nerves. If you do use a microphone, you need to try it out first. Handheld microphones will lose your words if you turn your head.

Prepare for a change: Don’t be too rigid in your preparation. It is often better to have the outline framework of your speech, without having it planned word for word. That way you can gage the response of your audience as you go, subtly changing and tweaking parts so that it will be better received. Changing a speech in the hope that has been planned word for word can prove problematic, as you are likely to have memorised much of it, which can be difficult to forget.

Get feedback from the audience: Speak where you can and make sure it is always to your target audience and get feedback, so you can continue to learn, and grow as a professional speaker.

Mentor: Obviously, it will do you more good than harm to have a mentor, who you can always run to for advice and encouragement. Personally, it’s a great honour to have the renown Andrew Neil speaker as a mentor. I am so proud and lucky!



There’s no shortcut to becoming an after dinner speaker overnight. One way to enter this field is to become an expert in a subject and gain public speaking skills. With time, you can be the best speaker that has ever lived. Take the bull by the horn now, just dare!

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By Jo Smith – Contributor   |   01/11/2018