As it seems every year, the holidays and the year-end celebrations that come with them have snuck up on us once again. While the festive season might bring to mind thoughts of time spent outside of the workplace with family and friends, filled with glittering décor, gift giving, or holiday travel, it also brings an annual tradition for many within the workplace as well – the company / office holiday party.
These year-end gatherings, which have been a long-standing tradition for many companies, might take on a different form now than they did in the past. While some might still opt for an in-person fête with food and cocktails, others might choose a virtual gathering featuring interactive fun and games to better accommodate preferences and schedules.
But regardless of format, these celebrations can be much more than an excuse to let loose – they also offer a great opportunity to bring employees together from all levels of the business. And by delivering a top-notch speech as you have all your colleagues gathered, whether in-person or remotely, you can help set the tone for the coming year and boost enthusiasm by making everyone involved at every level feel appreciated.
So, this year, if you’re in charge of crafting or delivering a CEO’s speech at your company’s holiday or year-end gathering and need some tips to help you maximize the moment with something memorable, check out our top 5 tips for giving a great holiday speech:
Timing is Everything – Plan to deliver your speech earlier during the celebration rather than later. It’s only natural that people’s attention becomes more splintered the later things go on. Especially if people may have to leave / log-off early due to the busy holiday season packing their calendars … or if there’s an open bar if you’re having an in-person party! You want to wait long enough for everyone to arrive and settle in but early enough so that they’re still going to be attentive.
Keep it an Improv-Free Zone – While a holiday gathering with your colleagues might not be a high-pressure situation compared to a big client sales pitch, that doesn’t mean you want to risk winging it. Be prepared, have notes, and rehearse your speech in advance to identify changes you might want to make, get your tempo down and set the right tone. This will not only give you more polish, but it will also make you feel more confident and on-message, resulting in a better, genuine delivery.
Don’t Squash the Party Buzz – Employees have gathered for this event to have some fun and enjoy a celebratory atmosphere, so plan on keeping your speech succinct. You don’t want attention to wander or eyes to start rolling. Skip the long, detailed stories and any type of serious business / performance analysis. However, be specific when acknowledging individuals, teams, or departments that brough impactful, notable achievements to the table over the past year. Your rehearsal time can help you incorporate these details while keeping things light and without running too long.
Be Sincere with Your Gratitude – It might seem obvious but it’s important enough to mention. The whole point of your speech, and of the celebration itself, is to recognize everyone for their past year of effort and how you look forward to what’s to come with your team in the new year. Sincerity when giving thanks is key. One nice gesture is to be sure to thank the families / significant others of your employees – this shows you are aware and appreciative of people’s lives outside of the workplace.
Focus on the Positive – Even if your company has experienced a bumpy year with results that fell below expectations, the holiday party is not the time to discuss it. Instead, use your speech to highlight successes instead of setbacks, even if the successes have been few and far between, and the brighter potential successes in store next year. You want your team to feel positive, hopeful and energized for the year ahead and ready to help take business to the next level. Help to create that atmosphere when addressing the crowd.
If you speak at your company’s holiday party this year, let us know how it goes! What other tips do you suggest when preparing for a company celebration speech?
Author: Leslie Dagg
Leslie is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with 23 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across multiple industries.
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