The success or failure of a company Christmas do is not only dependent on the evening’s festivities. Your speech to your employees should also mark a positive high point. Remember: This is your opportunity to reinforce the feeling of being part of a team, to motivate your employees and make them proud to work for your company.
7 things that you should bear in mind when preparing your Christmas speech:
1. Know your audience and talk to them at their level
Think about who you will be addressing. Will your audience be made of people who work closely together with you and who all know each other? In that case, you can include personal anecdotes that everyone will understand. If not, then you will need to look for other things they have in common. Always remember that your speech should be addressed to everyone and exclude no one.
2. Focus on your core message
Don’t lose yourself in too many different topics. Focus on three main highlights from the past year at most: What was important for you and your company? Were there any events, projects or successes that you want to spotlight? Convey your message clearly and positively.
3. Say thank you – the right way
Express your appreciation of your employees. Don’t underestimate the motivational value of a pat on the back for a job well done. Ensure you avoid empty platitudes by being specific: What have your employees done particularly well in the last year? What impressed you? This is also a good opportunity to congratulate those who may have chalked up 10 or 20 years of service with the company or to thank those who are retiring or leaving the company for their contribution and to wish them well for the future. You can also welcome new employees. Those who have made a particularly valuable contribution should be singled out for praise. Don’t be afraid to address them by name and highlight their good work.
4. Get personal
Don’t talk down to your audience as if you were sitting on a throne. Show them your human side. There is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing your emotions. Tell them about your thoughts or doubts about certain developments or decisions. Describe how something or someone has surprised or impressed you. Make clear to your employees: Managers are people too. If you want to build rapport with your audience, it doesn’t do to hide behind your lectern – that only puts distance between you.
5. How long should a Christmas do speech last?
This is something you have probably experienced from the other side: Those who ramble on ad nauseum, quickly lose the attention of their audience. 10 to 15 minutes should be enough to get your message across. Practice your speech in its entirety. Then you will know how long you need and be able to trim passages that go over the recommended time limit.
6. Should you read from a prepared script or speak off the cuff?
It is hard to set your audience on fire by reading out a pre-prepared speech. Better to note a few key points and then improvise. It is all right to read out short passages like quotes. You should leave your PowerPoint presentation and beamer to one side – you’re not at a meeting or a conference.
7. And to finish: Looking ahead
Your employees will want to know what the future holds for them and the company. You should mention what targets have been set for the coming year or any upcoming events. Don’t go into too much detail. No one at the works Christmas do wants to be reminded about how much work is about to land on their desk next year.