By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 09-29-2022
Christmas speeches are often expected as part of workplace celebrations, like the office Christmas party. Or they may be included in a family and friends get together on Christmas day.
And, yes, it can be really tricky pulling a good one together.
Let's face it.
By the time the season of merriness is upon us, being hey-ho, cheerily, merry about preparing a Christmas speech can feel like a step too far.
One twinkly fairy light too many.
However, you can do this. You can find the right words, and make the speech you give a gift by keeping it short, simple and sincere. In other words: stunningly, genuinely awesome. Just the best Christmas speech ever. ☺
The most efficient way to prepare your speech is to:
Is it family, friends, work colleagues, club members...?
What do they want, or expect, to hear? What would delight them? Is it stories about the events of the year shared by everybody, the company triumphs or challenges...?
Does the occasion suit light-hearted humor or is a solemn tone more appropriate?
Knowing exactly who the audience is will help you choose the tone and content of the speech.
For example, it's unlikely your workplace colleagues would think it appropriate if you were overly flippant, or familiar, and regaled them with tales of your five year old son's exploits.
Or that your family would be thrilled to hear a detailed week by week breakdown of how sales sunk or soared in the third quarter.
Are you aiming to inspire people?
Do you wish to unite them?
Perhaps you want to thank them?
Maybe you want them to laugh and relax.
And perhaps what you want to achieve is a combination of all those suggestions.
Being clear about why you are making the speech will guide your choice of theme, tone and content.
What's certain is you're not deliberately setting out to bore them by rambling on and on, then on some more.
A theme is a thread to hang your speech on. It unites it by linking all the pieces, (opening, body and conclusion), together.
To keep your speech simple choose one from these six theme suggestions.
It's easier to begin with the body or middle of your speech because this is where you express your main points or ideas around your chosen theme. You will add the conclusion and beginning later.
Depending on how long you want to speak for, choose 1 to 3 main points fitting your audience, purpose and theme.
Start with the most important first. For each point you make, give one or two examples to illustrate it.
When you give your speech you'll link the points with transitions, or bridges, to enable your audience to follow you easily from one idea to the next.
(If you want more information about transitions, why you need them, and how they work, you'll find it here on this page: how to write a speech. Scroll down the page to Step 5: Transitions.)
The pattern or template you'll use looks like this:
The ending of you speech should leave your audience full of hope: looking forward to coming events, united, and with a sense of gratitude.
To finish well, reinforce your theme, summarize your main points and end with strong statement or maybe a quotation. What's ideal is an ending your audience will remember.
For more about conclusions, with examples of speech endings, see: how to end a speech.
The beginning of your speech:
The printable outline template pdf will guide you through each of the first six steps. Once it's complete you'll be ready to move on to step 7: working with your notes to turn them into a speech.
(The pdf will open in a new window.)
A speech is not a speech until it is spoken out loud to an audience.
If you've followed the first six steps what you've got now is a collection of ideas: sequenced notes covering everything you intend to speak about.
Your next task is to tie your content together from beginning to end so when you say it out loud it flows naturally and can be easily followed by your audience.
There are several ways of doing this.
One way is to use your outline to write the entire speech out paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word for word. This is called a manuscript speech.
When you deliver the speech, you will read it.
Use the manuscript method if it makes you feel more comfortable or safer. That's important if this is a first speech, or you are very pushed for time.
For much more about writing speeches see: how to write a speech. The article has tips on how to write oral language, that is language to be spoken rather than read, writing for a particular audience, tone and vocabulary choices, how to write a good introduction and a lot more.
Once you've finalized the text you're ready to practice reading it aloud. For you own sake please take the time to do this. A speech badly read is very difficult to listen to and you want your speech remembered for the right reasons.
Besides, delivering a manuscript speech well is a valuable skill to have. Find out how to read a speech effectively.
Another way is to give your speech extemporaneously. That is to use a mix of carefully scripted and sequenced material and impromptu speaking.
Done well, an extemporaneous speech is naturally flowing and conversational. (My sample office Christmas party speech is an example of one.)
Steps 4, 5 and 6 of your completed outline forms a large chunk of the preparation for one.
How you link all that material together, and the exact words you use is the improvised or impromptu part of the mix.
To interact with your audience and speak freely, without having to use a podium to put outline notes on, use hand held cue cards. This entails transferring your outline to a carefully curated series of numbered and labeled cards.
Each card carries one MAIN point and its supporting details.
When you glance at it, the words and phrases you've put on it act as a prompt and you remember what you wanted to cover.
For more: how to make and use cue cards
Both ways, manuscript and extemporaneous, need practice or rehearsal before you deliver the speech to your audience.
Have a few trusted friends, colleagues or family members listen to it. Get their feedback on content, tone and length,* (2-3 minutes is good.) Make any changes necessary, and run it through again.
*Timing your speech is critical to make sure it will easily fit the occasion's program and to avoid the embarrassment of going on too long! And committing that ultimate sin, keeping people from what they want to do!
This eighth step covers the make or break details: the seemingly little things that if overlooked can change an experience from happy to challenging in an instant.
How, when and where you deliver your speech significantly affects aspects of the preparation you need to do.
For example if the setting for your speech is an intimate family gathering around the dinner table you won't need a lectern/podium on a raised stage or a microphone.
But if you're in a hall they might be absolutely necessary to be seen and heard.
Thinking ahead will help you make sure you have gathered together everything you need and have done everything you can in order to give your speech well.
(This list is a version of what I call a Bring-It-On list. The principle behind compiling one is that if you carefully think through every aspect of making the speech, there'll be very little chance of something vital being overlooked. Have I got the right date, the right venue? Are my clothes sorted? Etc., etc. They're great for reassuring yourself that you've done as much as you can to be ready.)
Be specific about what you are expressing gratitude for, and why. Are you grateful for health, family, workmates, friendship, kindness, favorable events, good times together, challenges, food, your country, the world we share...?
This could be about the joy of giving: giving time, giving thought, giving a helping hand, giving gifts, giving donations...
Hope is feeling positive about looking ahead. You could talk about feeling hopeful regarding new beginnings, plans for the future, resolutions, nurturing creativity or ideas, sowing seeds...
Remembrance is way of honoring or respecting the past. It could be recollections of people or events and their significance, highlights of the previous year's events...
What unites the group of people you are giving this speech to? Are you family? Do you share the same workplace or club?
Use this theme to talk about significant events impacting the lives of group members: births, deaths, triumphs, and challenges...
Or you could talk about the importance of love, belonging, continuity, history, values, hopes... from the point of view of being a member of this group.
Use this theme to emphasize cooperation, community, the achievements made possible through working together, embracing and celebrating differences, humanity, love, compassion and understanding...
Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
Mary Ellen Chase
If there is no joyous way to give a festive gift, give love away.
Heap on the wood! The wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Sir Walter Scott
I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
Christmas Day is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both.
Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.
Henry David Thoreau
The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself, like a spider, in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.
It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you...yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.
He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree.
Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'.
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
someone reaches out
to touch another life with love
From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.
Christmas is forced upon a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press; on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred.
George Bernard Shaw
I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.
Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven.
W. C. Fields
Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered. What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.
I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys
Go well writing and delivering your Christmas Speech!
May it inspire and give joy.