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How to choose the right after-dinner speaker for your event

Winston Churchill once said: “There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.” In other words, it’s a pretty difficult art to get right and after-dinner speakers spend years perfecting their after-dinner delivery.

Choosing the right after-dinner speaker can also be a daunting responsibility, especially when there are so many to choose from.

After-dinner speakers have become an essential element of any successful dinner event. After-dinner speakers hold the key to absolute audience engagement, providing either a light-hearted, humorous end to an evening, or an inspiring, thought-provoking speech to top off a wonderful meal.

After-dinner speakers make up a huge percentage of our enquiries at The Speakers Agency, and we want to make sure you end up with an after-dinner speaker who is the perfect fit. Take a look at the tips below to make sure you have carefully considered how best to address the needs of your specific audience.


Choose a speaker with a story to tell

An after-dinner speaker is hired to engage your guests in some form or other. Their anecdotes include humour, tales and insights, all of which contribute to their speech’s overarching ‘story’.

The word ‘story’ in this context can relate to a variety of different things. A speaker’s story may refer to something that has happened to them or something adverse that they have overcome that has made them who they are today. Equally, their story may refer to their career and all that they have achieved along the way. The definition of an after-dinner speaker’s ‘story’ is broad, but the most important thing is that they have something to say that is worth your audiences listening to.


Choose a speaker that complements the overall theme of your event

While it may seem obvious, certain speakers will fit the theme and atmosphere of certain events better than others. If you are hosting a sports-related dinner, an after-dinner speaker from the sporting world is an obvious choice. But, it doesn’t have to be an actual sportsman or woman – it might be a coach, the owner of a sports arena, a manager or sports journalist.

If you are hosting a ticketed event that spans all manner of industries and sectors, you might consider stretching your budget to book a well-known face or television personality as an after-dinner speaker who can help drive ticket sales.

As well as matching the theme of your event, a speaker must also match your tone and atmosphere. If you want something light-hearted and humorous, Alfie Moore is a great and very affordable after-dinner speaker who reflects on and shares stories from his time in the police force. He has a background in stand-up comedy and is thus perfect for an event with a lighter atmosphere. Other light-hearted after-dinner speakers include Wynne Evans, Sally Phillips, Christopher Biggins and many more.

If the tone of your event is more informative or educative, consider a speaker who can share a particular expertise with your audience.

And if your event is about celebrating success, consider choosing an after-dinner speaker who has done something incredible. Take James Cracknell, a renowned and well-decorated Olympian, or Jo Salter, Britain’s first female fighter pilot. Jacquie Davis is another great choice, as one of the first female bodyguards, Jacquie’s stories of endless ‘close calls’ will have any audience on the edge of their seats.

Take the time to go through our website and look at some of the incredible after-dinner speakers on our roster. Keep your audience in mind and think about what they would like to hear based on the theme and atmosphere of your event.


At The Speakers Agency, we are always happy to put forward some suitable suggestions of after-dinner speakers for you. Provide us with as much information as possible about your event by filling in our contact form, or call +44(0)1332 810 481 today.

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