At any formal gathering it is often the after dinner speaker who can make the event memorable long after the last brandy and chocolate mint have been devoured. There is no doubt about it a charismatic speaker, be they a leading politician or a witty comedian, can have an enormous impact on the success of an event while a dreary speaker can kill it stone dead.

Nobody likes to sit and be bored under the table, especially if they have paid good money to attend what they expect to be a glamorous occasion.

It is for this exact reason that you must ensure that any speaker you employ has a sound reputation and is going to wow your guests. There are a huge number of different types of after dinner speakers including politicians, comedians, celebrities, sports stars, professional speakers and even royalty. Choosing the right one and making sure they are briefed correctly can transform your event.

When choosing an after dinner speaker you may prefer to use your own contacts but the alternative is to use a professional speaker bureau which can offer a well-informed list of speakers, selected through years of experience. The better ones normally take the time to listen to speakers in person so that they are able to offer first-hand knowledge of which speakers would suit your event.

They will also ensure that your speaker is properly briefed and kept informed about all your event details, in particular highlighting any unusual aspects, special requirements or even problems at the venue.

It’s a common misconception to think that just because someone appears on the TV or scores regular goals they will automatically have the gift of public speaking, which is a special talent that not every famous person is endowed with, as a good speaker must know how to captivate and hold an intelligent and possibly critical audience.

Many large events need a speaker who can deliver a colourful blend of entertainment and enjoyment, whilst at the same time communicating a subtle company message. Remember while there are many types of speakers some are better suited to certain types of events than others, a good bureau should be able to advise you on the best speaker for your special event.

Sometimes, lateral thinking can produce exciting entertainment, for example using a leading international impressionist as your after dinner speaker will give you not just one celebrity to announce the award winners, but a whole host of different ‘people’.

A useful way to get the conversation flowing between guests, who otherwise may have little in common, is to invite the speaker to give their speech before dinner is served. Guests will have enjoyed the drinks reception and be seated at their dining tables in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere listening to a well-prepared speaker who is interesting, entertaining and relevant. Dinner is then served and conversation is automatically livelier by employing this increasingly popular method.

For whatever reason, using an after dinner speaker is nearly always a smart move but do make sure that once you have fixed a firm date for your event you get on and source a speaker. All the best ones are booked up weeks, if not months, in advance so if you have set your heart on Carol Vorderman (or even Tony Blair) start ringing round the speaker bureaus and get some brochures and available dates under you belt. You don’t want to have to resort to employing a well-meaning but utterly boring amateur after dinner speaker.