Your company’s having a holiday party and guess what? You’ve been chosen to be Santa.
Santa will undoubtably have to say a few words to the guests before he distributes his gifts.
Now, Santa has a reputation for being a man of very few words. Let’s face it, besides ‘Ho-ho-ho’, what can you ever remember him saying?
But sometimes, those who are thrust into Santa’s spotlight feel the need to say more than ho-ho-ho. And that can lead to the sort of trouble that could curdle the eggnog.
Before you know it, the elves are in a huddle, muttering “Santa’s winging it. It’ll end badly”.
So here are a few seasonal tips for those occasions – it might be a business gathering, it might be a family affair – where you are asked to don a red and white hat and say a few words.
This has to be step one. Do not wing it. Honour the occasion and the people who will be listening to you by putting serious effort into planning and rehearsing the speech. Be like Santa. He prepares for a whole year for his night of glory.
Pick the right theme
The best themes are pretty obvious:
- Gratitude – talk about family, workmates, friendship, kindness, health.
- Giving – you can’t go wrong at this time of year talking about the joy of giving, giving time, giving thought, giving a helping hand, giving gifts, giving donations.
- Remembrance – highlights of the previous year or recollections of people or events from the past and their significance in the present.
- Family – it can be immediate family or business family. It’s a chance to talk about belonging, continuity, values, hopes, support, teamwork.
- Unity – here’s a chance to make people feel good by talking about community, achievements through working together, embracing and celebrating differences.
Don’t be a Grinch
This is not the time to drag up differences or dissect problems. It’s not a time for complaints. If something is bugging you, keep it to yourself. No-one wants to be dragged down by your grumblings. More ‘Ho-ho-ho’, less ‘Bah, humbug’.
Keep it short
Everybody wants to have fun. They want to mix and mingle with friends. Or they want to get on with the meal. Or they just want to party. If it’s appropriate to say a few words, make sure they are just a few words. Don’t outstay your welcome.
Don’t try to be too clever
This is no place for attempts at irony, or back-handed compliments, or double meanings. And be careful with the jokes. You don’t want to be the only one in the room who finds you funny.
Oh and by the way – stay away from the eggnog until your Santa duties are over.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.