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Find out how we write End-of-Year Speeches. Learn what you need to include to impress your audience.
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How We Write a End-of-Year Speech
Why the need for a speech?
The office end-of-year or Christmas function - fun, frivolity, far too many drinks. While some may be looking forward to letting loose, one or more of the bosses may be thinking about what they are going to say in their speech!
If that person is you - you have undoubtedly recognized that there is an expectation that you, the fearless leader, will say a few words. You may be used to public speaking, but this may also be the one time of the year that you have everyone in the same room listening to you. In any case, don't be worried. Go into this process framing the situation like this - it is an opportunity to make people feel acknowledged, valued, informed, happy to part of the organization, and happy to be at this event. It is also an opportunity to show your talents as the leader and get your team thinking, "wow, my boss speaks well!" Not a bad outcome.
Informing and appreciating are the keys to this speech. Talking about yesterday, today, and tomorrow provides an opportunity to reflect on the year and feel hope for the future. It encourages feelings of being all "in this together" amongst the team. Showing gratitude for the team as a whole and key individuals is essential. Engagement and psychological safety are critical for team performance, so a sincere (emphasis on sincere!) acknowledgment ensures people feel valued and not like they are"just a number". By the end of the speech, the audience should feel like they are part of something bigger and ready to get back to mingling.
How we write an End-of-Year Speech
We like to use the below structure when creating End-of-Year Speeches. There is certainly plenty of room to move things around depending on your circumstances, but as long as you touch upon each of these areas, you'll have covered all expectations.
Unless you are delivering a casual, ad hoc, 30-second speech, giving yourself enough time to prepare and rehearse is essential for success. No matter how close or far your speech is, we recommend checking out our Pre-Speech Gameplan. It will give you all of the info you need to put yourself in the best position to be ready.
You know your organization's culture. You know what your team members are like and what they expect. When writing and rehearsing your speech, think about what they might want to hear. No point in telling offensive jokes to a conservative audience, and you don't want strange looks from chilled-out onlookers when you start using a bunch of "big words". You want to bring your own personality, but make sure you also deliver a speech that will sit well with your audience. This powerful combination will ensure you come across naturally but also deliver your speech in a way that will encourage your audience to relax, engage with your speech, and absorb the information.
If you follow our suggested structure, and given you know your organization well, you may not need a theme. However, if you are having trouble thinking of ideas for your speech, then we recommend writing out one or two sentences that summarises the message you wish to send with your speech. In other words - if the audience walked away remembering only one or two things, what would you have them be? Answering this question helps to keep your speech focused and on the right path. Everything you write should then align with this theme.
Example - it has been a very difficult year due to COVID-19. Yet, we have achieved much. We have launched three new shops and have served 20% more customers than last year. This is due to the incredible efforts of the team, who not only helped the organization to survive, but to thrive. We cannot be more grateful for the team we have.
Opening and Welcome
The very first words in your speech. You could launch straight into a "hi everyone", or consider launching straight into a comment or telling a story about the event, the organization, or the year that was. With most speeches, we like to grab the audience's interest straight away with a question, story, or a comment. However, depending on the formality of the event, it may be more practical to hush the audience and use a "good evening" and "welcome to the event" to get their attention.
The team is interested in the journey they have been on. Reflecting together upon what they have done and why they did it is a great way to feel like a journey has been shared together and to solidify a sense of "teamwork". Tell a story about, or list, major achievements (both good and bad). Tell the team why it was important this journey was taken. For added effect, you could also list the possible consequences had you not taken certain actions this year, and/or refer to quotes or stories to draw comparisons to your particular circumstances.
Today and Tomorrow
We know where we have come from, but where are we now, and where are we going? Talk about exciting plans that are currently underway and what is coming over the next 12 months. Not only will this boost morale, excitement, and anticipation, it will continue to strengthen the sense of being "in it together" and daring to attempt the next achievement as one team.
An essential component. Acknowledge key team members, VIPs, and the team as a whole. Talk about and expand upon why you are thanking them, what it is they have contributed, and what the consequences would have been had they not been a part of the team. Make extra effort to be sincere. People may forget a sincere acknowledgment, but they won't forget an insincere acknowledgment. Get this part right, and the team will feel engaged, valuable, and safe amongst their place in the team. Don't underestimate the power of these feelings. They are the key to team performance.
If you are aiming to make a particularly stirring speech, or you look to encourage your team into taking specific action following your speech, then add a Call to Action. This could include asking the team to make a special effort in the coming months, or to stay focused on a particular task.
You may wish to close with a quick toast or extend on your close by adding a joke or remark about taking up enough of the audience's time. Consider what you are toasting to. It should reflect the essence of your speech, whether it is success, teamwork, the future, or other themes. Don't forget to wish people a happy holiday, and if desired, add a comment to ensure the team look after themselves during and following the event.
Consider how you are delivering your speech. There may be times in your speech that you should vary your tone and volume, and times you should use gestures. These tools will help to get maximum impact, so consider this when you write your speech. For more on how to deliver an End-of-Year speech, check out our Resources page.
At SpeechForm, we believe your efforts to write your End-of-Year Speech is not to just “get it done”, but to make the speech enjoyable, memorable, and one that has people approaching you to sing their praises for your speech. After all, you will have put in a lot of effort. There is something special about making an impact on your audience when you thought your sole job was just to “get through it”. Make sure to include the above points so that the audience gets what they expect from your speech. And always ask yourself - what am I trying to achieve with this speech? Keep that in mind as you develop your content.
Remember to rehearse. This is a performance. The more you develop your speech and rehearse, the greater the impression you will make. Confidence through a well-written speech is great, but using your voice and your body effectively only comes through practice.
Get it right, and you will leave a lasting impression that your audience will remember long after the event.
End-of-Year Speech Blog
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