I am sometimes asked to speak but told that my limit is 5 minutes or ten minutes - whatever it may be.
To be honest, the feeling I get is that really, they don't want to hear me at all, so they are going to minimize their boredom and discomfort by limiting me to a short time. I go along with it but it doesn't feel good. It feels goooooood when I am told to speak with the feeling that they want to hear me [especially with no time limit].
Tonight, I got my sweet revenge.
I was at a seudas mitzva and a Rav got up to speak and as speakers often do he promised to be brief. I called out [from the bleachers] "Speak for a long time!!! [תדבר באריכות]. He smiled [he seemed to enjoy the compliment] and then said that their are others speaking after him so he has to keep it short.
That was the first speech. Then the last speech was given by another Rav. It was late and he said that he gets the feeling that people are on eggshells and have no patience to hear the chiddush he has to say. I called out [again from the bleachers] "No, we want to hear. It will be terrible if we don't hear this chiddush".
He smiled and the pilpul began to my delight and I hope to the delight of others [although he kept it much shorter than it could've been].
The lesson - Make people feel like you want to listen to them. There are few things in life more flattering and self affirming than the feeling that people value what you have to say.
That is from the side of the listeners.
From the side of the speakers, remember, people are at this meal and can't get up and leave as it would be impolite, but let's face it - if you would announce that you are giving a shiur in shul chances are that they wouldn't show up. They are only listening because they have to. So keep it brief, to the point, speak from the heart, try to inject a bit of humor, smile a lot, compliment as many people as effusively as you can, try to inspire people to be a little bit better - and then graciously sit down. I have been at simchas where the speeches make the galus seem short in comparison....
Love and blessings,