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How to Speak at a Social Gathering

You are present at a social gathering at which a large number of people are present.

There is no formal list of speakers, nor is any one expected “to make a speech.”

Some reason or other brings it about that you are asked to address the assemblage.

You therefore have no topic on which to speak, and no particular purpose in speaking other than to make an announcement, or an explanation, or to fill time until preparations for something else are completed.

It is a most embarrassing moment.

Are there any rules that will be of service at such a time?

Imagine, for example, that there are to be amateur theatricals. One of the principal actors has not arrived. The audience is assembled, and has been entertained by music until the long wait becomes annoying. You are called upon to go before the audience and talk for a time to put it in good humor.

In all such eases, follow these suggestions:

1. Without in any way naming any person as blameworthy tell the general reason for your appearance.

“Ladies and Gentlemen: You have come to see a comedy. Most astonishing, you and I are all playing parts in a very comic comedy. The name of the comedy in which we are acting is ‘The Lost Actors, or the Play without Players.’ Some of our leading characters have not arrived.”

You have now satisfied the curiosity of the assemblage, and, by your words, have somewhat restored good humor. You have not even intimated that anyone is to blame.

2. Continue with fantastic or humorous explanations adapted to the occasion.

“Is it possible that the leading theatrical managers of the country have made a conspiracy and abducted our extraordinary amateurs? Has the love making of the play proved so effective that our characters have eloped ? Or has stage fright overcome our bashful ladies and gentlemen?” (Carry foolery of this sort to any length that you please, but do not blame anyone, and, above all, do not cast ridicule upon any one.

3. Tell whatever humorous anecdotes may be appropriate.

4. If you have to speak at length, in order to fill time, turn the subject to some theme that is in no sense controversial, and speak on that theme.

“Now you see why it is that we are playing parts in a comedy. We still have some minutes to wait. Let me take this time to speak of the work our people have done in the past year. (Follow with details that will compliment the audience.)

5. If you do not have to speak at length, end your speech with a simple announcement.

“In the meanwhile the orchestra has agreed to play some special music, to which I invite your attention.”

PROBLEM.

Think out the words of a speech in which you announce that the club dinner will be served after a delay of about fifteen minutes.

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