Being a leader and being a boss are two different things. We all love leaders yet often find our bosses to be uninspiring. Holiday parties are a perfect opportunity to reflect on the successes of the past year while offering hope and optimism for the months ahead. This year especially, employees and co-workers will look to you to be a source of inspiration. Times are tough and in the darkest months of the year, we all want to look toward a brighter future.
If you generally do not make a toast or speech at the holiday gathering – this is a good time to start. If this is part of your regular routine, this is the time to focus on bringing a strong message of optimism to your company.
While a good (short) speech can help build your credibility and inspire workers, a poorly delivered, or poorly thought out talk can do great harm. Take time to craft your message and plan your delivery.
Speaking in front of a group can be hard enough. It is harder yet to speak confidently in a manner that creates credibility when things are tough.
A good holiday speech should:
- Deliver a message that is honest but exudes hope and inspires
- Position you as a visionary leader and someone that understands the needs of the company and employees
- Include everything you need to cover without saying too much, leaving something out or worse yet, saying the wrong thing
- Sound as if it is flowing from you extemporaneous, planned, yet the delivery must be smooth and filled with confidence
Some people in this situation feel the best approach is to wing it, figure out what to say as they speak. It is easier this way than planning the talk. Others believe a drink or two will loosen their tongue so they can speak more freely.
The truth is that this is an important talk. It can shape the immediate future of your business. The words you speak will influence employee morale. Employee moral will shape employee behavior, which will affect your profitability (maybe your survivability) in the year to come.
It is worth the time and effort to prepare well to inspire your employees and give them an optimistic view of the year ahead. The holidays mean different things to all people but regardless of religion, it is a time we seek hope. Give this talk the attention your business deserves.
Here are some suggestions:
In preparing your talk:
- Condense your thoughts to a single message
- Prepare your thoughts ahead of time
- Use clearly outlined notes on a small card
- Talk to employees – hear their concerns and accomplishments
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
When delivering your talk:
- Keep it positive and give people a reason for hope
- Keep it brief and light– it is a party!
- Make eye contact with as many people as possible
- Mention individuals or departments by name, especially those that are often overlooked
- Have a clear, strong, and positive closing statement
Take the time to plan your talk so it will inspire your employees to embrace the challenges of the new year. Delivering a well thought out talk demonstrates you are thorough in your planning. It will instill confidence within the employees that you are not just their boss, but also a capable, inspiring leader.
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