by Peter Watts and Gavin McMahon
Will your Holiday speech be a Holiday stocking, with tempting surprises and interesting shapes?
To help you to write one that has your team rocking,
We’ve prepared a short list of some toys we’ve been stocking.
As you plan your speech for the office party this year, wouldn’t it be great to have a team of speech-writing elves on hand to do the heavy lifting for you.
Choose just three or four of these professional Yuletide speaking techniques, and you’ll have Jolly Holiday oratory to be proud of.
For supporting your theme
Anaphora: A Christmas tricycle
A three wheeler bike gives perfect support no matter how fast you might ride. No wobble for you; there’s a wheel at each corner. Holiday messages get that same solid stability when you include the same phrase in consecutive lines of your speech:
This year we’ve delivered service that is the best in the market.
We’ve been able to give our customers a product that is the best in the market, and that’s because we have a team of people who are the best in the market!
Let’s celebrate a successful year past
Let’s celebrate a successful year ahead
Let’s celebrate an incredibly well earned holiday
For linking ideas
Anadiplosis: The train-set
For one step further on the tricycle theme, try a train-set!
Just as train-sets link together with the rear of one car connecting to the front of the car behind it, you can string phrases together with the last word of one line becoming the first word of the next.
It’s a stylish technique that connects themes, and sounds superb.
I wish you happy holidays. Holidays full of excitement. Excitement that brings you back refreshed next year.
Make it a priority this holiday to find some downtime. Downtime allows time for reflection, and reflection gives rise to new ideas; new ideas that lead to new opportunities.
For really hammering home the holidays
Metanoia: Candy cane pencil with eraser & sharpener
What better way to write your Holiday speech than with a candy cane pencil. Only for this technique you’ll also need an eraser and sharpener because you’re going to turn the usual bland Holiday greetings into something far sharper!
First think of a nicely classical Holiday greeting, such as “I wish you all happy holidays.” Now take your eraser and audibly rub-out the bland, replacing it with something far sharper:
I wish you all happy holidays. No, I wish you all sensational holidays!
This has been a good year. No, strike that. This has been a fantastic year!
For listing accomplishments
Polysyndeton: Eight tiny reindeer
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen, On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen.”
Each name stands-out brighter than a Santa suit in a snow-drift. This is because each is emphasised by the stressed word that appears before it. Imagine if the line went: “Now Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen.” They’d all become one long stretch-reindeer blur.
For lists of accomplishments, make each stand proud by replacing commas, with the word “and”:
This year we’ve launched products and won clients and expanded the business and been more successful than ever before.
We’ve grown the team and increased our service levels and developed the business.
To pack items into a list without those items blurring, remember the old saying:
Many ‘ands make lists work!
For encouraging miraculous achievements
Argumentum a Fortiori: A Charlie Brown Tree
Charlie Brown conjured the holiday magic from the unpromising foundation of that poor little Christmas Tree. The last one on the lot, and missing all it’s needles. It was a Charlie Brown Tree, and everybody laughed at it. But Charlie Brown’s indomitable spirit made that tree glitter.
Where have your team conquered seemingly unconquerable odds. Emphasise those moments. Celebrate those moments. Conjure the magic of past achievements, and your team will conjure magical achievements to come.
“We’ve grown the business. If we can grow the business in a recession year like this,
then think what we can achieve next year.”
“We’d all agree that project ABC was the most demanding assignment we’ve ever been asked to do.
It was a tight deadline. It was a challenging client. And they kept changing the specs. And still we achieved it!
If we can meet that sort of pressure, we can meet anything!”
For defining ideas
Analogical reasoning: A drum kit & Snakes and Ladders
There are toys children love to receive but that parents hate them to be given. Drum kits for example. Why do parents hate Holiday drum kits?
It’s because drums are to family friction as games are to family fun
Analogies create the illusion of cause and effect: A is to B, as C is to D. It makes your case sound logical and your logic sound vivid. Where things are vivid, they are always remembered!
Make them seasonal: Santa is to Christmas as the Bunny is to Easter
Make them businesslike: Creativity is to success as oxygen is to breathing
Make them funny: Holiday time with the family can be to relaxation as a canal-root filling is to massage
For tackling painful memories
Litotes: A lump of coal
A lump of coal in the stocking means someone’s been bad. There are times though when it isn’t someone who’s been bad, but something that’s been bad, such as hard times or tough decisions during the year just passed.
In a Holiday speech, your team will expect you to reference those times, but with this being a celebration you don’t want to collapse the party spirit.
Negatives need acknowledging without re-animating, so use a “not……but…” structure:
This past year has not been without it’s challenges, but……
There have been times when this past year has not been the easiest, but…..
We’ve had to make decisions that have not been happy ones, but….
Follow that “but…” with an uplifting statement. You will have nodded to the tough times, but immediately re-directed your audience to better times to come.
To create a sound that sounds superb
Alliteration: A Suzy Snowflake snowglobe
Seasonal sound-bites often use words that start with the same letters. Let’s take “Suzy Snowflake”, and “Dominick the Donkey”, and then of course there’s the phrase itself: “Happy Holidays”.
Doesn’t “Delightfully delicious” sound so much more delicious than “delicious” alone? Instead of a “peaceful holiday”, how about a “perfectly peaceful holiday”?
Doubling down on opening consonants doubles the delight of delivery.
To avoid it all becoming a just little too sugary….
Oxymoron: Sour candies
There’s a way to double-up on the double-sound technique, that’ll make your Holiday audience pucker-up with pleasure.
Like the most mouth-watering of Holiday candies, this treat starts sour, and then turns sweet!
Take two words that start with the same letter, but have more or less opposite meanings. Now try colliding them together. Make sure the first one’s nasty, and the second one’s nice!
It’s a tasty little contradiction that offers sweetness with a twist.
To add festive colour
Epithets: A box of crayons
Whilst plain speaking might be admired, a speech that is plain is a speech that will fail.
Your Holiday speech needs to move, to inspire, and above all, to be remembered. It needs to have colours. The colours of a bright box of brand new crayons.
Google search for a “Christmas Word Cloud”. There are lots out there to choose from and sprinkle some of it’s sparkling adjectives throughout your speech. Go with an approximate ratio of 1:50. For every 50 words of plain speaking, make sure you have at least one bright splash of festive colour.
May your Holiday speech be bright. May your Holiday speech be memorable. And may your Holiday speech be fun.
If you have fun in it’s writing, then you’ll have fun in it’s delivery, and if you’re enjoying it then you can guarantee that your audience will as well.
For even more ideas about writing and delivering Holiday speeches, try this article as well: “Unaccustomed as I ham”