Hosting a Holiday Party? Here are 7 Practical Tips for Speaking at Your Event
Nov 17, 2019
It’s that time of year during which we experience an increase in social gatherings for comrades, colleagues, and clients. For those organizing or hosting holiday parties, there is an added responsibility of speaking at these events to, for example, welcome partygoers or introduce the entertainment.
Whether you are speaking at a formal event or a casual get-together, here are a few practical tips for rockin’ the mic:
- Embrace the spotlight early. There is no need to wait for every single person who confirmed attendance to arrive. People may arrive late, leave early, or, for various reasons, not show up at all. No matter the duration of your event, it may be helpful to consider it in segments. If the last part is a wind-down and when fatigue (or alcohol) could alter the dialogue or concentration, the middle is the peak where most conversations and socializing happens - neither of these slots will garner the attentiveness of your audience. The first segment, then, is the best slot during which to speak – but toward the latter end of it, after your audience has settled in. For example, if your gathering is from 7pm-10pm, the optimum time for speaking would be near 8pm.
- Offer a thank you. Tipping a hat to your attendees illustrates your appreciation for their choosing your event over other options. If in attendance, their family and friends may deserve a nod of thanks for their support. Be certain to offer appreciation toward any sponsors or musical guests or other speakers. In addition, acknowledge clients, executives, media, catering, and servers. Speaking should exhibit goodwill toward your entire audience.
- Celebrate successes and milestones. Particularly common in business settings, leadership representatives may be tempted to celebrate corporate wins, such as record profits or firm-wide accomplishments. Doing so, however, heightens the risk of audience disengagement – who are likely there for the social elements rather than an annual business performance update. If you are an executive host, be mindful of focusing on ‘business’ rather than ‘people.’ Instead, find lesser-known wins and shine the light on small, impactful innovations and ideas. It should also be noted that, although there may be losses or difficult times looming in some of your attendees’ minds, holiday parties are generally a time of merriment and not for dwelling on or drawing attention to negativity.
- Brevity is key. Resist the long speeches and keep the stories short. Err on the side of speaking too little, rather than dominating the evening. ‘Nuff said.
- Hydrate, the right way. It’s always a good idea to have a glass of water nearby when speaking, to whet the whistle and combat dry mouth (which can happen unexpectedly when you realize all eyes are on you). Delay imbibing wine or brandy or (insert any alcoholic beverage) until after you step out of the spotlight and away from the mic. Better still, save the alcoholic beverages until after the event, when you can relax and bask in the glory of a triumphant speech delivery!
- Practice. Plan what you are going to say in advance and practice saying it out loud...multiple times...until the sentences and anecdotes and phrases feel natural and unscripted. Knowing what you are going to say and how you are going to say it can alleviate stress in the moment.
- Have fun! It's the holidays, enjoy yourself, relax. View your speech from the perspective of the audience. They don't want to see you squirm with discomfort; they want your levity, your energy, and your joy. Kick the event into high gear by being present and by thinking about your audience's experience rather than your own. Invite your audience to join in the pleasantries.
If you are hosting a holiday party, plan to speak, even if for a moment. No matter who is in your audience or how large or small the crowd, it is an honour. Speaking collectively with your guests exhibits respect. Rock the mic, embrace the spotlight, and enjoy the privilege.
What tips would you add to this list?
- Tisha Parker Kemp
Still photo captured from video by Yasmine Figueiredo on Pexels