Having a keynote speaker address your group during an evening gathering means that you'll need to juggle the presentation with the meal that is being served. There are many different ways to structure the event, but one idea is to have your keynote speaker deliver his or her address between dinner and dessert. If you decide to move in this direction, share your intentions with the keynote speaking talent to ensure that this idea works for him or her. Here are some reasons that having a speaking engagement take place between dinner and dessert makes sense.
People Won't Be Hungry
While there may be value to having the keynote speaker address your group prior to dinner being served, the risk with this idea is that your attendees will be hungry. This can mean that they lack focus and may be fidgety as they think about the speaker wrapping up his or her remarks so that dinner can be served. If the speaker has a question and answer period at the end of their remarks, few people may choose to speak because they would prefer to satisfy their hunger. When you schedule the keynote address after dinner, people will be well fed, relaxed and ready to listen.
People Won't Leave
You might alternatively think about having your keynote speaker take the stage after the full meal is served. The problem with this idea is that once people have eaten dessert, they may start to think about leaving. This can especially be true if they've paid for their meals and feel as though they've gotten the value that they want. Few people will leave before dessert if they've paid for it, so having your speaker address the group between dinner and dessert will likely mean that the seats remain filled.
People Can Eat Dessert
Ideally, you'll have dinner, followed by the keynote address, and then conclude the evening's events with dessert. If certain elements before the meal were slow, such as a presentation of awards, you might get a little behind schedule. It's not fair to your guests or to the keynote speaker to have him or her speak after dessert because if you're behind schedule, people will be anxious to leave by this time. If the speaker takes the stage before dessert, however, you can improvise and have dessert served during the speech so that people can eat while they listen, thus combining two things into one.