Giving a speech for a banquet dinner can be a stressful endeavor, particularly if you are not comfortable with public speaking. To make the speech go smoothly, talk to the organizers about the theme of the evening, check with other presenters about their topics to avoid overlap, and then prepare and practice your remarks.
The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a speech is the audience. Before you plan your remarks, consider who will attend the banquet. If guests will be industry insiders or company employees, you can use more jargon and anecdotes. For a more general audience, stick to ideas that everyone will be familiar with or include a brief explanation. Think about the age and experience of the banquet guests to help determine the types of references you use, particularly those in popular culture.
A speech for a banquet usually includes a mix of personal opinions and factual information. To keep your ideas organized, write a speech outline that covers your main and supporting points. In doing so, you can keep data organized and make sure you cover all of the necessary points. If possible, avoid writing your entire speech out on note cards, which can make for a forced-sounding presentation; instead, use your outline as a quick reference and speak from there to sound more natural.
If you have attended many banquets, you are probably familiar with the experience of sitting through a long, tedious speech. As you plan your speech, do so with a time limit in mind that is in proportion to the amount of information you want to convey and that fits in with the length of the banquet program. If you are introducing the keynote speaker, for example, keep your words short and pointed. If you are the main speaker, you can go longer. When in doubt, shorter speeches usually are more pleasant for the audience.
It is tempting to use humor when giving a speech at a banquet to lighten the mood and get the audience in a relaxed frame of mind. Humor is very effective when used well, but can be disastrous if it is cruel, confusing or distasteful. When you are writing jokes or funny comments into your speech, test them on other people first to see what they think. If possible, find people who will be at the banquet or who have insight into the mindset of guests. Error on the side of caution, particularly when poking fun at people in senior positions. Never make fun of something a person can't change, like a physical deformity or vocal tic.
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