10 Tips for Motivational Employee Appreciation Speeches
Posted on December 7, 2018 by Danny Leffel
Employees need to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Without these things, their motivation can quickly plummet. If you are hoping to effectively increase morale and motivation within your company, you can start with something that costs no money whatsoever. An employee appreciation speech only takes a little time and thoughtfulness, but it can go a long way toward making team members feel like their work matters — especially if your speech comes from the heart.
The following tips will help you not only write a great speech, but deliver one that is meaningful, personal, and worth remembering.
1. Tell a Story
Speeches can be boring. Listeners get tired and stop paying attention. An awkward tension fills the room. But yours can be different! One of the most effective ways to ensure a good speech is to share a great story. If you are highlighting a special team member, you are sure to have at least one interesting story about their time at the company. It doesn’t have to be crazy or dramatic. Just be sure to include an intro, some action, and a conclusion that wraps it all up.
2. Say “Thank You” — and Mean It
Anyone can tell when they’ve received a hollow “thank you.” You’ll want to think carefully about how you offer your appreciation. Phrases like, “Thank you for sharing your talents with us,” are vague. Try to be specific when thanking your employee. “Thank you for always coming to work with a smile and having a positive attitude through even the toughest challenges,” is a better choice. The listeners will know exactly where your appreciation lies.
3. Tie Your Appreciation Back to the Company
Some speeches simply thank employees for what they do on a day-to-day basis or how pleasant they are to have in the store or restaurant. But your speech can make a bigger impact if it touches on the ways in which an employee’s hard work has improved or contributed to the success of the company as a whole. Maybe the team member has an eye for knowing just what a customer is looking for, gives killer entree recommendations, or is an especially skilled salesperson. Don’t be afraid to throw in an anecdote or statistic to show exactly how the company has benefitted from this top-notch employee.
4. Focus on a Special Character Trait
It’s one thing to thank an employee for “being a good staff member.” To write an effective employee appreciation speech, you’ll want to focus on what makes a worker unique. Are they particularly personable? Do guests come in and ask for them by name? What makes that person shine? It might take some thinking, but your speech will pack a bigger punch if you make it personal.
5. Respect Those Who Are Shy
Even if you’d love your employee to come rushing up to the front to offer a speech or toast of their own, they might simply be shy. Don’t drag an employee into the spotlight if he or she would rather avoid it. By listening to their preferences, you are showing your team that you respect them as individuals and that you can be trusted not to make them uncomfortable, especially during a social gathering.
6. Avoid Critiques and Teasings
Everyone loves a good joke, but no one really enjoys being teased. Be careful when it comes to adding little jabs or “all in good fun” jokes to your speech. Are there other ways you can show how much you appreciate the employee? Teasing might not be the best approach, especially if the employee isn’t much of a jokester himself. You should also be wary of unnecessary critiques. If you can, try to keep the speech wholly positive. This isn’t the time for assessments or backhanded compliments.
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7. Don’t Make Comparisons
If you want to make everyone in the room feel comfortable, you’ll want to completely avoid any comparisons. Don’t compare employees to one another, servers to hostesses, front of the house to back of the house — don’t compare at all. Those comments only sow discomfort, frustration, and bitterness.
It’s easy to ruin a speech with your nerves. If you want to avoid feeling jumpy, sweating, and stumbling over your words, you will want to take a moment to relax. Ten minutes before you plan to give your speech, find a back office in which you can be alone. Close your eyes. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Shake out your arms, legs, and head. Unclench your jaw. A quick reset like this will allow you to feel calm and confident when it’s time for the main event.
9. Make Eye Contact
This is a common mistake. When we get nervous, we tend to look anywhere but into the eyes of listeners. However, eye contact can actually be a big help when it comes to calming down and feeling more centered. Be intentional with your eye contact. Remember to look at the employee you wish to recognize when you say “thank you.”
10. Practice Your Speech
Even if you’ve given speeches a thousand times before, you’ll want to practice this one. Speaking in front of a roomful of employees can feel very different from speaking in front of guests or customers. To guard against sudden nerves and mistakes, just be sure to practice your speech. Run through it a few times during the week prior. Say it in a mirror, say it to your partner, or say it to your dog. Just repeat the speech until it feels comfortable and familiar. Then you’ll be ready.
Now that you have some tried-and-true tips for giving the best motivational employee appreciation speech possible, you can start to plan your speech! Think of some employees who have really shone in the last few weeks or months.
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