After-dinner speaking can be a joy, but it can also be an intimidating prospect. You might be a respected manager or a rugby team captain but when you stand up to deliver your speech, you’re suddenly expected to be a performer. The audience will want to be informed and entertained.

You know a lot about the subject you’ve been asked to talk about. However, shaping that raw material into an after-dinner speech that amuses and engages is another issue altogether. You know the WHAT (thanking specific people, giving an award, giving an annual review), but you’re not sure about the HOW.

This is where I can help. I am Marc Blakewill, a professional speech writer who can write you an after-dinner speech that not only fulfils your brief but does it with flair and funnies. I can craft a speech that has flow, structure, and – the big one – after-dinner one-liners written specifically for your audience.

I’ve written bespoke speeches for actors, broadcasters, CEOs and clients who simply want a sparkling speech for a significant birthday party. After the speech pops into a client’s inbox, a very common email I receive is: “Thanks, Marc. I can relax now…”

So why not read on for some tips and guidance on how to remove any anxiety about after-dinner public speaking?

Marc, smiling to camera, in a cafe with a notebook writing a Best Man speech

Write An Engaging After-Dinner Speech With Me

1. Get booked in

Call or email me to arrange a no-obligation chat about how I can help with your after-dinner speech writing.

2. Purchase an after-dinner speech package

After-dinner speech – I write you a speech from scratch. It will cover all the key points you specify with a good flow, gags and memorable lines. Let me know your requirements and I’ll tell you how I can help.

Bespoke after-dinner jokes – if you want some guaranteed laughs, this is the package for you. I can write jokes for a speech you’ve already drafted or one that is still a scarily blank Word doc.

3. Fill out an All Write On The Night Questionnaire

I'll send a personalised questionnaire for your event (birthday, Christmas, award ceremony) to determine what to include in your speech (e.g. thanks and main points).

Not sure how to generate your raw material? Have a look at my blog post: after-dinner speaking ideas.

4. Follow-up

Next, I review your completed questionnaire. If you don’t have lots of information, don’t worry. I can research the topic or follow up with additional questions. I ensure I have the details to hit the brief.

5. Leave it to me

I now brainstorm material for the speech. This will include one or two ice-breakers, memorable lines about the topic, stories licked into shape, and dry facts and figures made engaging. I then sew this together into a speech that flows and send it over to you. If you need any changes, it’s included in the fee.

6. Deliver the after dinner speech

You have now acquired your secret superpower. A professionally written speech that you’re really looking forward to delivering. However, if you plan to write the speech yourself, there’s still help I can provide. Check out my guide to the Holy Grail itself: after-dinner jokes.

Tailor-Made After-Dinner Packages

The pressure to be a funny public speaker role can be a bit overwhelming. This is why I offer my after-dinner speech writing services. I can ensure your speech has the necessary after-dinner jokes to get the audience laughing and you feeling relaxed. So, whether you’re due to deliver a speech at a rugby club dinner, a corporate event or a leaving speech, I can tailor a great speech for you.

After-dinner speech

£149 Per Page
  • You get a totally original speech written for you and your audience. Can include up-to-the-minute topical jokes for added impact.

After dinner jokes

£100 set of 10-15
  • This is not an off-the-shelf package. You give me the brief and I write totally bespoke jokes. A quick way to funny up your speech.
Best Man speech ideas

Tips For Becoming A Captivating After-Dinner Speaker

Topical references – the beauty of a topical joke is two-fold. First, it has an immediate impact. The story is in everyone’s minds so it’s easier to get a laugh. Second, it is not an old favourite and could only have been written very recently. Use one near the top for maximum effect.

Mix the high- and low-brow – vary the references you use. If you’re talking at a Quantum Physics conference, find some links to popular culture. And if you’re speaking at a Golf Club dinner, why not find a connection to someone unexpected like a famous historical figure? (e.g. Napoleon never played golf but he still ended his life six-under.) Check out my post after-dinner speech ideas.

Vary your tone – think of your speech as a song. It’s not all high notes and soaring melody. There is verse as well as chorus. So, ensure you have a balance between the main substance of the topic and the lighter-hearted material.

Write more than you need – generate as much material as you can before putting it together. Then ask yourself this about each line: does it convey something new or meaningful? Is it funny? Is it there to help the flow? Remove the lines that don’t deserve their place.

Callbacks – a call back is a joke that refers to one earlier in your speech. Include one and your audience will know this is a well-constructed after-dinner speech and not one you wrote on the train there.

After-Dinner Speech Got You Stuck?

Have you reached the end of your tether with your speech? Is worrying about it keeping you awake during meetings? Whether it’s a quick birthday speech for your husband or a grander speech for an opening ceremony, I can give you a free assessment of your current draft. I have written speeches for all occasions and professional fields. If you know what you want your speech to achieve, I can help you get there with my proven track record of matching audience and tone.

Using my professional after dinner speech writing services, you would get a fantastic speech, instant peace of mind and more time. While I’m working on your speech, you can get on with work/life/learning Chinese.

People Who’ve Delivered My Lines On TV & Radio

I’d love to tell you about the Premier League footballers I’ve written for, the TV celebs and the occasional pop star. A LOT of stuff out there is ghostwritten. However, I would never divulge who’s used my services without their express permission. 

That said, in my TV and radio career, I have written for a number of celebrities and people well known within the comedy world. My script commissions have come mainly from UK TV (and radio) channels such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and sometimes a big name will be involved. But whatever someone’s level of fame, the aim has always been the same: hit the brief and be funny.

Each audience is different. I have written material for after-dinner speakers talking at events for the Royal Mail, law firms, cricket clubs and sales conferences. In each case, I ensure I have the necessary details to fulfil the brief whether that’s from the client questionnaire I send out or my own research. Speeches will include topical gags, audience-specific jokes and the latest talking points relating to the topic.

Feel you might need some help with your speech? Why not get in touch now for a quick chat?


Here are some after-dinner speaking “golden rules”:

  •  Know your brief – it’s crucial to know what you want to achieve. How factual does it need to be or is it mainly for post-dinner entertainment? If it’s up to you, fine. If not, double-check with the person who booked you if you’re not sure.
  • The admin – list all the things you absolutely must cover. It could be thanking the organisers/caterers; naming a sponsor; thanking the chair. Try to bracket as much of the “admin” together rather than spreading it out over the speech.
  • Tone – you probably don’t want to be too tame for a rugby club dinner and you won’t want to be risqué for anything corporate. In any event, only ever use a joke you could justify in the cold light of day.
  • Use the room – if you’re speaking to a large group of people, try to engage in eye contact with each section. Don’t look like you’re talking down a TV camera lens.
  • Length – if it’s not your decision, find out the suggested speaking time. Always take into account that a joke-heavy speech will be quite a bit longer on the night. Audience reaction piles on the seconds. A good reason to include more gags!
  • Pace – don’t rush and don’t tiptoe slowly through your speech. Newsreader pace is a good guide. It ensures clarity and doesn’t drag. You could record yourself on your smartphone and see how your delivery sounds. 

Overall, the aim of an after-dinner speech is not entirely different from the BBC’s principles: to inform, educate and entertain. With the main emphasis on entertaining.

You might be the “dessert” (the fun speech) after the “main course” (the serious speech) has been done. Alternatively, your speech might be expected to cover some serious points such as a review of the year. In either case, the audience will expect to hear some amusing stories or after dinner speech one-liners.

With both business experience and a career as a professional comedy writer for TV, radio and stage (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), I am uniquely placed to write you an engaging and funny after-dinner speech that hits all those marks.

Say you’ve got to give a ten-minute speech. What’s the word count? Well, it depends. A typical speaker will deliver about 140 – 150 words a minute but some are nearer 125 words. Faster speakers (see some TED Talks) can speak comfortably at 170 words per minute. It’s a fairly big range so do time yourself.

There’s audience reaction too. The more humour, the more you have to wait for the laugh to subside. This can add anything from 30 seconds to 2 minutes to a 10-minute speech.

No audience reaction:

125 words X 10 minutes = 1,250 words

150 words X 10 minutes = 1,500 words

170 words X 10 minutes = 1,700 words

With audience reaction (estimating 10%)

125 words X 9 minutes + 1 minute of reaction = 1,125 words

150 words X 9 minutes + 1 minute of reaction = 1,350 words

170 words X 9 minutes + 1 minute of reaction = 1,530 words

Remember: a good length after-dinner speech is crucial. Too short and they’ll feel short-changed, too long and you’re in danger of losing your audience.