The primary purpose of a speech to entertain is to have the audience relax, smile and enjoy the occasion. The speech should have a central theme or a focus. A series of jokes will NOT work well for this type of speech. Good speeches to entertain typically mix humor with more serious morals, lessons learned, or experiences. In other words, they have a real point to make… they are not just silly, slapstick humor. You can tell a lighthearted, personal story that reveals a life lesson you’ve learned or examine a familiar subject from a different and unexpected viewpoint or take a lighthearted look at a particular issue. Example: Summer jobs: “Summer jobs for high schoolers: The daily diary of the American Nightmare.” Additional suggestions for the composition and delivery of after dinner speeches are as follows: 1. Carefully select an interesting, timely, and appropriate topic. Having something familiar in the talk that the audience can relate to will enhance listener interest. 2. Build your speech around a central theme, moral, or idea. 3. Support your main point or central theme with colorful stories, narrative and examples. 4. Be imaginative and creative when delivering your talk. Few speeches demand more imagination and creativity than the speech to entertain. 5. Be positive and good-natured when delivering your talk—irony and sarcasm are acceptable but not bitterness. 6. Be optimistic and modest when speaking and create an appropriate mood for your listeners. 7. Humor is a key ingredient in speeches to entertain, but can take many different forms. It can be accomplished through satire, irony, banter, sarcasm, and wit. A speech does not have to have the audience rolling on the floor laughing in order to evoke humor or entertainment. Some of the recognized elements of humor are:
• Exaggeration: the process of taking an idea or statement beyond the limits of reality. • Incongruity: the process of provoking an unexpected response from one’s speech material. • Anticlimax: arranges a series of items in a growing order of significance only to end suddenly in the absurd. • Puns: involve the humorous use of a word that can be interpreted multiple ways. • Play on words: deals with the imaginative and creative use of language designed to produce a humorous response. Sample Speech to Entertain – Mark Twain
My heart goes out in sympathy to anyone who is making his first appearance before an audience of human beings. By a direct process of memory I go back forty years, less one month—for I'm older than I look. I recall the occasion of my first appearance. San Francisco knew me then only as a reporter, and I was to make my bow to San Francisco as a lecturer. I knew that nothing short of compulsion would get me to the theater. So I bound myself by a hard-and-fast contract so that I could not escape. I got to the theater forty-five minutes before the hour set for the lecture. My knees were shaking so that I didn't know whether I could stand up. If there is an awful, horrible malady in the world, it is stage fright—and seasickness. They are a pair. I had stage fright then for the first and last time. I was only seasick once, too. I was on a little ship on which there were two hundred other passengers. I—was—sick. I was so sick that there wasn't any left for those other two hundred passengers. It was dark and lonely behind the scenes in that theater, and I peeked through the little peek holes they have in theater curtains and looked into the big auditorium. That was dark and empty, too. By and by it lighted up, and the audience began to arrive. I had a number of friends of mine, stalwart men, to sprinkle themselves throughout the audience armed with clubs. Every time I said anything they could possibly guess I intended to be funny, they were to pound those clubs on the floor. Then there was a kind lady in a box up there, also a good friend of mine, the wife of the governor. She was to watch me intently, and whenever I glanced toward her she was going to deliver a gubernatorial laugh that would lead the whole audience into applause. At last I began. I had the manuscript tucked under a United States flag in front of me where I could get at it in case of need. But I managed to get started without it. I walked up and down—I was young in those days and needed the exercise— and talked and talked. Right in the middle of the speech I had placed a gem. I had put in a moving, pathetic part which was to get at the hearts and souls of my hearers. When I delivered it, they did just what I hoped and expected. They sat silent and awed. I had touched them. Then I happened to glance up at the box where the governor's wife was—you know what happened. Well, after the first agonizing five minutes, my stage fright left me, never to return. I know if I was going to be hanged I could get up and make a good showing, and I intend to. But I shall never forget my feelings just before the agony left me, and I got up here to thank you for helping my daughter, by your kindness, to live through her first appearance. And I want to thank you for your appreciation of her singing, which is, by the way, hereditary.