Making a Christmas Speech to Work Colleagues
It’s nearly Christmas; everyone’s getting into the Festive mood with food, drink and general bonhomie abounding in roughly equal proportions, which can only mean one thing. It’s time for the office party – and you’ve been asked to make a speech!
Of course how you approach it and what you actually say will largely depend on the culture of your particular workplace and the nature of your work, but there’s one particularly good thing about this kind of speech. Your colleagues are likely to be more forgiving and sympathetic at this time of year than at any other – so unless you are unrelentingly awful, or say something incredibly offensive, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.
However, while that is wonderful news for less confident speakers, don’t forget if you actually are truly dreadful, you will have to look all these people in the eye the following day – and for all of next year – so it’s obviously important to get things right. Fortunately, for most of these occasions, that really boils down to three things: be clear, be simple and be quick!
1. Getting StartedAsk anyone for their tips for a great speech and somewhere in there they’ll say “start well” – and, of course, they’d be right. The office Christmas ‘bash’ is a bit of a strange event – somewhere between employment and entertainment – so bear in mind that although its ‘work’ it’s still supposed to be fun.
- Let everyone know that they’re not in for a two-hour monologue
- Be inclusive and get everyone on your side at the outset
- Remember it’s Christmas
Example: Christmas is just around the corner and we (are moments away from a wonderful meal / have just had a wonderful meal) so I promise I won’t keep you (from tucking in / from enjoying the rest of the evening) for very long. During the year we all seem so busy in our own departments and with our own tasks, so it’s really great to have a time like this to get the chance to stop for long enough to talk to all the familiar faces that we normally say a quick ‘hello’ to as we pass them in the corridor.
2. The ‘Message'You may have something you want to say, or you may have been asked to make some particular point. Now’s the time to do it – ideally in a light hearted way, but while this is an ideal time for gentle shared humour, don’t be controversial, and remember that no one, but no one, wants to be reminded what they got up to – or with whom – at last year’s office ‘do’!
- Whatever you want to get across, keep it simple
- If it’s to be a business message, don’t jargonise it – it only confuses people!
- Use shared history to remind everyone of their part in the team effort
Example: It’s been a (brilliant / difficult / funny) year and I wonder how many of us sitting here now would have thought 12 months ago that we would have (been so successful / seen so many problems / predicted some of the strange things that have happened). Whatever you do in life, every job has its ups and down, but I know I’m not alone in being awfully glad, and very proud, to have such a great bunch of colleagues to share them with. Being here tonight I know that whatever next year throws at us – good or bad – we’ll be OK and if anyone doubts that even for a moment, you just have to remember how we managed to pull off that American deal. Now that really was a close one!
3. Wrap It Up
- Remember colleagues who have joined recently, is retiring or has died
- Look forward to Christmas and the New Year
- Invite everyone to enjoy the rest of the event
Avoiding The Christmas SpiritAt the risk of sounding like the worst kind of Scrooge, do try to keep a clear head until after your speech – however strong the lure of a spot of ‘Dutch courage’ might seem. Precious few of us actually do speak better for a drink or three, for all that we might like to convince ourselves otherwise. Whether you’re the boss or the office junior, a slurred and embarrassingly gaffe-ridden performance isn’t going to do much for your credibility, or your prospects, in the New Year. If you are going to have a drink, wait until you've done your bit.
You can relax in the knowledge that you’ve earned it!