Without a doubt, after dinner speaking has become a lucrative gig, especially to those who can convey the wit and wisdom in an entertaining manner. Famous speakers can rack up tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in one night. Some even get paid millions of dollars for delivering interesting speaking tours.
After dinner speeches have two objectives: to entertain the audience and to bring them around over certain beliefs or behaviours. But did you know that this genre of public address has been around for quite some time?
Oral Transmissions: Entertaining Communication
Based on Stephen E. Lucas’ book “The Art of Public Speaking”, after dinner speaking can be traced back as early as the 19th century. As a matter of fact, the world’s first documented after dinner speech was delivered by Sir Arthur Sullivan in 1888. In his speech, Sullivan commended Thomas Edison for inventing the phonograph. What’s more interesting is that Sullivan used the phonograph in recording his speech, and was later on employed to promote the phonograph in his after dinner speeches.
This kind of public speaking has its roots from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. During those times, having the oratory skills is needed in the court, in the world of politics, and in socialisation. Having said that, only the educated and the elite were given the “right” to hold public address. More often than not, after dinner speeches were delivered by men, mostly in the home of the host after feasting on sumptuous meals and alcoholic drinks.
Today, after dinner speakers are predominantly men. In addition, the after dinner speech circuit is composed of politicians, prominent business figures, and those in high places. Therefore, the tradition that public speakers during the ancient Greece are only the elite and the educated is still the same thousands of years later.
Even if after dinner speakers cost a lot nowadays, the advantages of having them make up for their speech fees. Before, such public address is used to praise or honor someone, but now, an after dinner speech is meant to inform, influence and elevate the public. Outcomes like these are truly a good return of investment.