The holidays are a popular time that speakers are hired to present at business and networking parties.  Here are 3 tips to use when speaking at a holiday party.

As a speaker, you will have an opportunity to speak at a Christmas party or holiday gathering of business owners or professionals. It’s important to know what the right message and speech is. Why? When people are at a company holiday party, they are not interested in business even though it’s a company holiday party. What is always present at a holiday party in addition to food? Alcohol. And when people are drinking alcohol, they are primarily interested in having fun. They really don’t want to listen to your 10 steps to goal setting that they’ve got to do after they leave the party. That will lose them and not add to the party.

Here are 3 strategies to use to satisfy the need for a speech and serve them as an audience:

1. Emphasize the Holidays

The first topic or idea to incorporate is to talk about Christmas, the end of the year holidays, and maybe a bit about making money and what your business is. But the emphasis is on Christmas or the relevant holiday.

When you center your talk around the holidays, you’ll need to be creative, innovative, and inspiring. It cannot be dry content on how to do something that no one is interested in at the moment. Instead, make it fun. Talk about the holiday and the end of the year and acknowledge the hard work of the year. Keep in mind that you may be speaking to people you know, your clients, or others you’ve worked for.  Thus, you want to be encouraging and pat them on the back for a year well done. It’s about their business (not your business) and all they’ve come through. Be fun, encouraging, inspiring, and congratulate them.

When speaking at a holiday party, do some research ahead of time on what the company does and what their performance is. Find out who will be given an award, be winning a prize, and/or earning some recognition. Having these facts in hand will allow you to make your speech relevant.

2. Talk About the Future

Secondly, you can talk about the upcoming year. We are going to have a great year. Talk about how everyone gets a clean slate no matter what happened in the 12 months prior. Let them know they have the opportunity to start over and do whatever they’ve wanted to do. Offering the perspective of a fresh start elevates the moose and allows you to encourage and inspire them. It fosters innovation and brings great positive anticipation and peace of mind for their future.

3. Be Entertaining and Fun

If you have a talent like magic with cards or singing, people love to be entertained. Use your performing skills if you have any. If you’re not humorous or don’t have a performing talent, you can still be entertaining by getting your audience to take action and move.  Start asking them questions and giving them instructions to do something fun. For example, let your audience know, “We’re starting a new year. Everyone stand up and get into your hero pose for the new year – could be superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, or whatever hero you want.” As your audience moves, they feel involved.  It becomes entertaining and fun without singing, dancing, or another talent.

However, be careful with this one. One holiday I was speaking on the Queen Mary. I was getting paid quite well and I was supposed to give an inspiring talk to a group of Real Estate professionals. It’s important to know the timing of your talk. The later in the evening it is, the happier they are, the less technical and deliberate and more fun you need to be. Turns out, I was scheduled to speak after dinner. Be sure to eat with them but don’t drink with them (even if they ask you to). You’re not there to party with them. You’re there to talk to them and build rapport with them while off stage. Now it comes time for me to speak. Typically, I’d have handouts. I knew quickly that the handouts wouldn’t fly. I was speaking about the future and what they can do to plan and set goals and how to make it fun. I had an exercise they did where they stood up and screamed something and sat back down. Everyone was appreciative.

Then I left right after the speech was over. It was not my party and as a speaker and outsider, I recommend you leave shortly after your speech. You can stick around while there is a break and until the dancing happens. It’s not your party. I’ve seen so many people that think it’s their party just because they are invited. But it’s not your company and it’s not your party. You’re there to provide a professional service.

You’re inspiring your audience no matter what type of holiday party speech you choose to deliver.

Holiday Parties Are Not Sales Making Events

Typically, holiday parties do not result in people buying from you. They are not in that frame of mind. They are into gift-giving and drinking. They are into eating and drinking. Usually, the CFO or CEO thinks it’s a good idea to have a motivational speaker. It’s good practice to do these types of speeches but may not be a business-building event. Furthermore, typically you can get paid to speak at these events to make it worth your while.