The other night I performed an after-dinner speech that went quite badly.
You won’t often read confessions like this because, well, it isn’t good for business. However I feel compelled to own up to this, if only to get it off my chest and in the hope of learning something from the experience.
And so to the night in question. It all started well, the people were lovely and I’d been given a nice build up by the MC. As nobody at the dinner had heard of me (a consequence of being a non-celebrity and in any case too camera shy to ever appear on television) I imagined expectations were modest. My fee had been paid in advance, the microphone worked properly and most guests had already downed a few glasses of wine. What could possibly go wrong?
Actually, lots. To start with I made some very pompous remarks about myself which is never a good idea. Perhaps it was due to nerves. Whatever the reason, I have already made a strict note never to repeat this.
Next, I tried some really old jokes that were out of context and while some got decent laughs others fell as flat as a pancake. Worse still, I kept looking down at my little piece of paper with the reminder notes on it, only there to be used in an emergency when the memory fails. Note to self – don’t do that again either.
The stupidest thing of all was when a story I told about my actual working experience got good reactions I failed to expand on it and instead went to a completely unrelated story that wasn’t all that funny anyway.
On the drive home I vowed never to do another after-dinner as long as I live. Leave it to the professionals, I told myself. Then I remembered what is booked in the diary already, plus the dozens that have gone well before and the copious positive feedback I’ve received (oops, pomposity creeping back in there. Stop it, Peter)
So, time for this old dog to learn a few new tricks. Henceforth if anyone is mad or desperate enough to engage my services they will get a much more honest, and hopefully interesting, account of the ups and downs of my working life and some of the famous people I’ve had the luck to rub shoulders with. They’ll hear about my passion for great service and why the hospitality industry depends so much on it. And if we’re very lucky, some of this will be pleasantly amusing too.