It’s the December office party season. Whether you love them or hate them there’s no avoiding the duty that must be done by attending them. And if you have managed to climb up the greasy pole of the corporate hierarchy…then that duty extends to saying a few words at these events. It’s time to brush up your office party presentation skills.
No matter that the festive period comes around each year we are typically under-prepared for the occasion. And that unpreparedness extends to our duties as a speaker at the office party. Someone has to speak at these events. So to get us all ready here is a set of office party presentation skills tips. A ten point survival guide for speakers:
First plans. Work out beforehand what type of speech you want. Do some planning. Jot down an idea or two and be ready for any surprises. You should consider taking a look at the party venue. Work out the best location from which to speak. If party music is planned you should be able to use a microphone. It’s essential kit for a noisy party atmosphere.
Drinks. Don’t even think about speaking when the party drinks have been flowing for some time. Our audience’s attention will be elsewhere and interruptions are inevitable. And of course, it goes without saying, we shouldn’t consider trying to give a speech ourselves when we have had one or two. That’s because it doesn’t work and can be embarrassing! Certainly there was embarrassment all round with this Mariah Carey speech at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
For starters. Aim to speak near the start of the party when people have arrived, had a drink or two and conversation flows. If dinner is being served aim to speak before dinner. It’s not the best opportunity for an after dinner speech.
The next course. If you have organised the party then it’s best to say a quick thank you to the hotel or catering staff. Or, if the EAs and PAs have organised the party, it’s definitely best to thank them for all their hard work. It’s always a challenge to organise the office party, so a big thank you will be well received.
Presents. The office party is a good time for some other thanks—for people or teams. So when you thank people, remember to get the technique right. For example, “And now, someone who’s always committed to the customer, someone who always puts their customer first, someone who it is a pleasure to work with…[pause]…first name, second name”. Applause will kick in spontaneously when you get it this way round. If you name the person and then keep talking, the audience loses track of the applause point.
More Presents. For a more solid appraisal of a team consider listing their “virtuous” points and then compare them with a less-virtuous point. Detail two of their virtues with a small anecdote—their commitment and their ability, perhaps. Then, detail a less-virtuous point that will get either a laugh or a wry acknowledgement—something along the lines of their taste in business suits or performance in the company 5-a-side league. Because, the idea is not to be cruel! Then detail their final virtue. A sense of humour, perhaps. Then name them using the first name, second name technique.
Be brief. Very brief. Because you have the whole of January for a strategic review of the year gone and that ahead.
Highlights and party lights. Note some closing points that will be important later in the evening. These could be very much appreciated later…”taxis are on the company account”, or, “the office opens at 1100 tomorrow”, or “the band is playing an extra hour until 0100”. These are good news points. They are easy to make and very appropriate for you to make.
And finally. Round off your speech with a toast along the lines of…”To ourselves, To absent friends and To future possibilities”.
Party…party. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the party. Roll on next year.
It’s brief, it’s friendly and it’s optimistic—you’ve got the office party presentation skills.
You can always find more presentation skills tips in a PresentPerfectTM effective presentation training course. You can join a scheduled course at one of more than 40 training centres or you can always ask us to organise a tailored course for you and your team at your offices. So, please don’t hesitate to get in touch when the time is right.
“Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogether, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down again without stumbling.”
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