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After Dinner Speaking: Things to Know Before Hiring an After Dinner Speaker

Updated: Mar 21

Are you hiring an after dinner speaker for the first time? Or looking for tips on how to find the best after dinner speaker, probably because the last one didn’t work out as well as you had hoped?

Whichever the case, it’s always good to be informed when hiring a speaker for your corporate event.

Because for one, an after dinner speaker can make or break your event – whether it’s a small formal gathering, casual dinner party, charity ball or large business conference. Secondly, you want to make sure the speaker can add value to your event; and (thirdly) that the cost of hiring an after dinner speaker is justified.

Because after all, unlike a keynote speaker or guest speaker, an after dinner speaker is not always a necessity if you have an event that could use a speaker. They do add value when they come in, that’s for sure. But it’s one of those where you can as well find a substitute activity to cap off the evening. Like a live band, for example. Or a mini awards ceremony. A quiz game. Or even a magic show.

But we cannot deny that an after dinner speaker is a convenient and easy solution if you’re struggling with the conundrum of how best to bring the curtains down on your event or evening.

Plus, unlike some of the alternatives available to you, after dinner speakers are a practical addition to most events. Not to mention that at the end of the day, they might just be the most feasible solution from a cost point of view.

What is after dinner speaking?

An after dinner speaker, as the name alludes to, is someone hired to speak at an event over a sit-down meal – usually after or before the meal. After dinner speaking involves the speaker sharing their experiences, with the whole point being to entertain or inspire an audience.

Unlike other types of public speakers, an after dinner speaker doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional speaker – that is, they do not need to have any professional speaking certifications.

However, what they do need to have is good public speaking skills. They need to be masterful storytellers who can captivate and engage an audience, regardless of the makeup of the audience or subject matter under discussion on the day. What they also need to be is well-versed in a particular field – a similarity they perhaps share with keynote speakers.

Also contrary to popular belief, an after dinner speaker doesn’t always have to be a comedian. Sure, comics do make for good after dinner speaking acts, but the speaker could be from any sphere really. These include, among others:

  • Politics

  • Business

  • Media and journalism

  • Sports

  • Film

  • Music

  • Health

  • Law enforcement etc.

Perhaps the view that after dinner speakers are comics is born out of the fact that after dinner speaking is typically more light-hearted than your regular speech. But while sometimes humorous in nature, after dinner speaking often involves insightful anecdotes or inspiring lessons.

For instance, the speaker could be an accident survivor or accomplished business person sharing awe-inspiring stories of overcoming adversity.

Or an adventurer looking to inspire the audience with the impossible feats they have achieved.

Or an archaeologist who has made a mark in their field and is passing a message centred around the need to never give up.

This is what makes after dinner speaking a varied field than most other forms of professional public speaking.

Whatever the case, what is most important is that the speaker strikes a chord with your audience at a personal level by the end of the evening.

5 reasons for hiring an after dinner speaker

There are many reasons for hiring an after dinner speaker. Some key reasons include:

  • To entertain attendees

  • To inform or inspire an audience

  • To engage the audience engaged through storytelling

  • To complement an event

  • To add a unique touch to events

1. To entertain attendees

Entertainment is one of the main goals of after dinner speaking. After dinner speakers are skilful when it comes to captivating an audience, often applying their skills of storytelling, humour and charisma to keep the audience engaged.

That’s a much-needed skill as you need a speaker that can work the room when everyone is feeling sluggish after a meal. Their act can leave your guests in splits of laughter or contemplation mode (probably both) which is sure to make the evening a memorable one.

2. To inform or inspire an audience

Entertainment aside, after dinner speaking is also about passing a message to your audience which can come packaged as valuable insights, inspiration or knowledge.

After dinner speakers tend to be knowledgeable in their field or have had to overcome major challenges in their life. This makes them well-placed to share their wisdom and experiences with the dinner attendees.

It is for this reason that motivational speakers like myself double up as after dinner speakers, able to spark a fire within the audience and encourage the guests to pursue their goals. This mix of education and entertainment can greatly enrich any event.

3. To engage the audience through storytelling

Barring the light-hearted touch that characterises it, one thing that makes after dinner speaking unique from other forms of speaking is its ability to drive the message home through storytelling.

It is a great way to share insights or communicate a message to your audience irrespective of the nature of the dinner or the people that make up the audience.

For corporate engagements in particular, an after dinner speech is a good way to impart useful lessons or titbits sans the stuffy undertones of corporate speak that few want to endure after tucking into a heavy meal.

4. To complement an event

After dinner speakers are typically not the headline acts of an event, but rather a piece in a larger puzzle.

Well, technically they can be – depending on who will be gracing the podium – but usually there will be a main agenda to focus on. For instance, it could be about business networking or a ceremony to present awards. Following which the occasion will then culminate in a dinner where a speaker is scheduled to take things home.

After dinner speakers, as such, can be perfect additions to complement such an event. But you need to hire one that fits the context or theme of your event if it is to be successful. This means factoring in everything from the guest demographic to the event atmosphere and everything in between. What was that saying again? Ah, “Every shoe fits not every foot”.

5. To add a unique touch to events

This is an extension of the previous point. We mentioned earlier that an after-dinner speaker is not a must-have addition to an event; but that their presence can turn an ordinary event into a remarkable one.

Indeed, a sumptuous meal is always a nice element in any dinner event. But if everyone simply comes, eats and engages in chit-chat before they leave, it will be a kind of a missed opportunity.

That’s particularly so when you consider there could have been a way to make the occasion unforgettable: by hiring an after dinner speaker.


Whether you are holding a charity dinner, award ceremony, corporate function, conference or gala, hiring an after dinner speaker can prove to be a masterstroke.

After dinner speakers are perfect for communicating a key message to the attendees while at the same time providing entertainment and keeping everyone engaged, ensuring the evening (and insights) are etched in the memory long after the plates have been cleared.

They can add value to any event, small or large, and can be the difference between a good event and a great one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of after dinner speaking?

After dinner speaking is a great way to make an event memorable through insightful advice, fascinating stories and light-hearted presentations. It can liven up dull events and make good ones occasions to remember.

If you want to share valuable insights about a certain topic with your event attendees (in-house or otherwise) consider hiring an after dinner speaker. They can bring a wealth of industry knowledge, entertaining tales and fresh perspectives that can resonate with your audience.

What are some common after dinner speaking topics?

How much does it cost to hire an after dinner speaker?

How long does an after dinner speech last?


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