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How to make your holiday toast more memorable

Leadership expert Judith Humphrey makes the case for starting a new tradition with your year-end holiday toast.

How to make your holiday toast more memorable
[Photo: Forja2 Mx/Unsplash; Thomas Renaud/Unsplash]

Writing an effective holiday toast can be daunting—even for experienced speech-givers. The stakes are high, your coworkers are all gathered around, and you want to strike the right tone, without relying on platitudes.

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I’ve written several articles on how to give a great end-of-the year toast, and avoid the common pitfalls that tend to arise with these sorts of public speaking opportunities. (Remember: Make sure to collect your thoughts, and think about what you want to convey to your team.)

This season, however, I decided to talk about something different: how to break the mold. If you’re looking to share something that will stand out in a sea of bland year-end wrap-ups, I’d like to introduce you to a tradition of speaking that takes place in The Humphrey Group each year, just before the holidays in December. Bart Egnal, who is CEO and president of the company I founded, has brought entertainment to this annual ceremonial speech.

Each year he creates a poetic rendition of the annual toast—one that also has deeper meaning. It portrays the goals of a firm dedicated to enabling clients to communicate as leaders, while also engaging employees via a familiar poem. Bart delivers it at our company luncheon in Toronto, and the leaders in each regional group deliver it to their teams, as well.

I’m including a few excerpts of it here, in case it might inspire you to write a customized version for your own company’s holiday celebration:

A Year-End Tribute to Our Team

‘Tis the night before the holidays,
And in Humphrey Group Land,
No team is now teaching,
No projects are in hand.

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Client work is paused,
Business is in repose,
We’re here to celebrate,
That’s how it goes.

Suddenly our phones beep,
iPads chime in with a sound.
The message is received,
“Help, you’d better come round!”

This client is in need.
There’s a year-end talk to prepare.
And from where we sit,
We just can’t write it, that’s clear.

….

After 30 years in business, it’s worth feeling proud.
And when you do it together you should trumpet that loud,
Few companies survive three years, much less thirty,
And this holiday season that’s cause for a party.

So let’s raise a glass to the people on our team.
I can say for sure each of you is supreme.
As we celebrate the season, and make great cheers,
Let’s congratulate ourselves on 30 amazing years.

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This fun, frolick-y speech is appreciated by those listening not only because it’s in verse, but also because it’s clear that their leader put in effort to create something unique.

There’s still time before the year closes out to craft your own verse address. It doesn’t need to be very long; even four or eight lines can help convey your feelings about the milestones your company has reached—and the gratitude you feel toward those who surround you.

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About the author

Judith Humphrey is founder of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She also recently established EQUOS Corp., a company focused on delivering emotional intelligence training to the fitness, medical, and business sectors

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