It’s that time of the year. Holiday parties are right around the corner and while many companies are in the process of securing their venue and finalizing other details, CEOs have an important task on hand as well—preparing a holiday speech. If you haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity to address your employees and their significant others at events in the past, here are some tips to ensure your presentation goes off without a hitch.
Have Goals. What do you want to talk about? What positive things happened this year? Are there certain people that went above and beyond and deserve special recognition? Depending on the size of your company, you might want to highlight major accomplishments for each department. For example, if the sales team had a banner year, be sure to acknowledge that. If the customer service team devoted more time to social media platforms talking to customers and resolving issues, applaud their efforts. This is a perfect opportunity to give your employees a pat on the back while keeping all staff informed on happenings within the company.
Don’t Use Jargon. One of the mistakes people make when delivering speeches is that they don’t choose their words wisely. Think about who your audience is. It’s not likely you would use the same vocabulary at the company’s holiday celebration as you would if speaking at a conference. This is intended to be a fun event so keep the mood light and don’t feel the need to incorporate jargon into your speech. Also, it’s a good idea to use personal pronouns such as “you” and “we” because it allows your employees to know that you’re talking about them.
Keep Eye Contact. Some employees rarely have direct contact with their CEO during the year so you’ll want to use this opportunity to connect with your audience. When giving your speech, make an effort to look around the room and not just stare down at the podium. This isn’t to say that you need to memorize your presentation, but if you do, that’s awesome!
Stay Positive. Whether or not your organization experienced staff layoffs in 2011, it’s important that you maintain a positive note and emphasize the future of the company moving forward. Did your company win a local award? Were you recognized by a prominent industry publication? Talk about the positive accomplishments and remember to smile!
Practice. As I mentioned before, you will come across much more genuine to employees if you aren't staring down at the podium the entire time reading your speech. A helpful strategy might be to write out what you want to say, practice reading it through a few times and then create an outline with bullet points. This kind of preparation will enable you to have better eye contact and engage in a meaningful talk.
Be Cautious With Jokes. Some presenters like to incorporate humor into their speeches and while I certainly think that it helps lighten the mood, be careful with the types of jokes you choose to share as you don’t want to offend anyone in the crowd. What’s funny to you might not be to someone else.
Holiday events are intended to be fun and employees look forward to hearing from the CEO. Don’t put off writing your speech until the week before. Make it a priority to start now and practice as much as possible before the big bash to ensure your presentation is a hit. Lastly, I’d highly recommend sending your speech to someone else to review to ensure it flows smoothly and comes across as intended. While this might be a friend, colleague or someone in your public relations department, it’s always a good idea to get feedback prior to the event.