Chief Executive's Annual Speech to Employees
The CEO’s annual speech can be a motivational masterpiece or a nightmare of tedium and many of us have sat through our fair share of both.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Chief Executive of many years standing or someone fresh to the job, hitting the right note – time after time – can be a challenge. When the company’s performed well, it’s easy to find inspiration in the successes, but it’s far harder to find a constructive message when things have gone badly – though this is exactly when you need to inspire employees the most.
Fortunately in good times and in bad, you won’t go far wrong if you remember one simple mantra “be PCB” – positive, clear and brief – and as this template will show, whatever kind of a year you’ve had, you’ll have something inspirational to say.
1. Getting Off To A Good StartMake sure the start is interesting and relevant; few things lose your listeners’ attention faster than a poor kick-off!
- Grab your audience from the outset, so make your opening sentence striking or ask an intriguing question; a good quotation can help – but avoid anything too “clever” or you’ll lose everyone
- Be inclusive; your listeners should feel you’re speaking to all of them
- Remember – be positive; however bad the year’s been, accentuate the positive aspects, no matter how small!
Example: The Japanese say that business is war. Well if that’s true, then we’ve all fought one devil of a battle over the last year – and each and every one of us has played our part in it. We’ve (done well / not done as well as we might have liked) and it’s perhaps tempting to think that (success came easily / it’s a disaster) – but nothing could be further from the truth. That (success / disaster) would (not have been possible / have been far worse) without your hard work – and if I do nothing else today, I need to say “thank you” to all of you for that.
2. Highs And LowsA brief overview can be a useful shorthand way to remind everyone of the year’s achievements and events. There’s no need to labour the point if company performance is at an all time low and redundancies are in the wind – rest assured everyone will be all too well aware of that – so remember the maxim, and be PCB!
- Try to balance “lows” with “highs”
- If you use statistics make sure they’re accurate and easily understood
- Don’t litter your message with meaningless jargon and confusing “business-speak”; no one really understands it – and it’s certainly not clear!
You’d have to agree, for instance, that telling your audience that most years have their “highs and lows and this one hasn’t been any different” makes a lot more sense than expecting them to understand that they have “blue sky break-throughs and downside troughs and this year has brought no tectonic shift in that paradigm.”
Example: Any year has its highs and lows and this one, of course, has been no exception. On the whole, the (lows / highs) have outnumbered the (highs / lows) but never the less, we still have (things to be grateful for / work to do) and it’s important not to lose sight of that. Sales (may be down but they’re still 20 per cent better than our competitors / have grown by 15 per cent compared with last year) and we’ve had great success in (developing our environmental policy / improving energy efficiency / recruitment). On a more personal level, we’ve said goodbye to some of our colleagues (sadly through redundancy / who have retired / who have unexpectedly died) and hello to others. All in all, I think it has been a balanced year and one which positions us well for the (opportunities / challenges / uncertainties) that lie ahead.
3. Motivate, Motivate, Motivate!If there’s one thing a good CEO’s speech can do, it’s motivate people to meet whatever the future holds.
- Be clear – tell people what you want them to do
- Tell them how this will benefit them
- Use a humorous story to illustrate your point; it makes you seem more human and we all instinctively warm to those who make us laugh
There’s an old saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar and if you want to motivate your workforce, honeyed words really can achieve wonders – so make use of the opportunity and write a killer speech!