If you’re known as a “Professional Toastmaster” you may find yourself speaking at the company’s “Holiday Party.” Your name may not be on the agenda but it’s a better idea to be prepared to speak and not be asked, than to be surprised and try to “wing it.”
First, remember to mention the employees and especially your bosses. Thank everybody’s significant others since they bore the brunt of the company’s progress by doing without the employee for family dinners, soccer games and even family Christmas parties.
Craft your speech like a Toastmasters project: an opening to develop rapport and interest, three points in the body, then a closing that inspires or invigorates. Rehearse the speech several times. If you don’t give it, the practice will still have been useful, but if you do you’ll seem polished and entertaining (even if you don’t really say anything).
According to Max Lucado: “Cut the fat and keep the fact. Give us words to chew on, not words to wade through. Thoughts that spark, not lines that drag.”
Speak early if you can and hold off on the cocktails until after you’ve spoken; always. Remember the milestones, tell stories about successes or even jokes about members. But always keep it positive – the holiday party isn’t a good time to embarrass anyone or to mention “fails,” especially business setbacks, and especially, especially if company executives are attending.
What if the event is a family Christmas party?
Good themes are Gratitude (specifically what?), Giving, Hope, Remembrance and Family.
Remember that no one will complain about your speech being too short – someone will if it’s too long. Five minutes is probably too much – plan on about as much time as you’d spend giving a speech evaluation.
Voltaire quipped, “the secret of being a bore is to tell everything:” don’t. Observe the KISSS principle: Keep It Short, Simple and Sincere.
Use your Toastmasters experience and training to make your mark at social occasions.