Last modified 20/12/19

Writing A New Year’s Speech: Your Checklist (VIDEO)

by Elizabeth Van Den Bergh

Are you planning a New Year’s speech, but are you experiencing a writer’s block?

Know that’s completely normal. Writing a memorable New Year’s speech is tough. Because it’s a milestone speech, it can seem like an overwhelming task.

Still, it is the perfect occasion to look back and look forward together, and thank the members of your team.

Here are my tips to prepare your New Year’s speech. (See text below video for tip details)

1. Define your speeching intention

There are unavoidable elements to a New Year’s speech, which we’ll look into below.

But to start off, ask yourself: What do I want people to take away, say one week after the speech?

Think not only in terms of what you want people to know, but also what you want them to feel and do.

For example:

  1. What will they know? That even if this felt like our best year ever, they can prepare for an even better one
  2. What will they feel? Proud, excited and curious
  3. What will they do? They will act motivated and keep the objectives clearly in mind.

This way, you get one clear message that gives your speech direction.

 2. First, look back

New Year’s is the time to review the past year. There are different angles you can mix and match:

  • Spot trends: As a leader, people look to you to paint the bigger picture. What are remarkable developments in the world? Your industry? Your organisation?
  • Tell stories: Every year has its good stories. Which can you use in your speech, that illustrate your main point? Or maybe they are just plain funny.
  • Give credit: In true holiday spirit, call out those that have accomplished valuable things. You will win hearts and confirm your image of a leader who is well aware of the value of their team. Try to include people on every level — not just your management team.

3. Then, look forward

New Year’s is also the time to formulate resolutions. Leaders have a vision. What are the big goals you are setting for your organisation or team?

These can be numeric (growth in sales, staff or offices, for example), but it might be appropriate to formulate ‘softer’ goals such as what you as an organisation will make happen in the world.

People love to have a direction to work towards, and this is your occasion to provide it as a leader. This is your ‘I have a dream’ moment!

4. Keep it light

Every speech has a context.

In the case of a New Year’s speech, that context is: your people have the holidays just behind them. They’ve had their fair deal of family dinners and receptions. They’ve probably eaten and possibly drank more than was good for them.

The message here is: a New Year’s speech that is too serious or too long is a bit like a cold shower at this point. Better to inject some warm feelings and a sense of humour.

5. End clearly and on a high note

As always, the end of your speech determines the final impression you make.

Ever had a splendid meal at a restaurant, but the dessert was disappointing? Then you know what I mean. So don’t waste that chance.

In the case of a New Year’s speech, it’s good practice to bring out a toast.

You could prepare your audience by using a ‘bridge phrase’ toward the then of your speech, such as:

“So, as I close this toast and we bring in a new year…”

And then you bring out your toast. Here are a few of our favourite ones:

  • “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” — T.S. Eliot
  • “Here’s to a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.”
  • “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Dan Millman
  • “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” — Brad Paisley
  • “May all your troubles during the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.” (a funny one – ideal for keeping it light 😉 )

You can of course find another quote about change or gratitude that you like, or write your own.

Good luck writing your New Year’s Speech! Which tip will you implement? Do you have additional tips? Let me know in a comment.