If you've been awarded Employee of the Year, you're obviously a leader who accomplishes much more than your assigned tasks at your company. It's a huge honor to be singled out for your contributions over an entire year, and you should reflect that humbly but graciously in your speech. A few key ideas and themes will help you organize a powerful, inspiring speech.
Start with gratitude, and thank the people who have made your work possible, comfortable and even fun. You may not have enough time to thank everyone by name, but you can mention the key departments or teams in the company that have helped you throughout the year. Thank the company owners and top management for their support and ideas, and express your gratitude for working with such a great group of people. Avoid diminishing the award to appear humble. Instead, discuss how the award recognizes a culmination of efforts, not just your own.
One of the most humble and inspiring things to do in a speech like this one is to turn around and recognize others for their accomplishments. Only one employee can win the award, but several probably had noteworthy achievements during the year. Call them out by name and describe their accomplishments in specific terms. This may take some brainstorming and note-taking beforehand.
Talk about the Mission
Discuss the mission of the company, and how the year's activities met that mission. Now that you've thanked and recognized individuals, focus on the strengths of the company and build a sense of pride for the entire audience. Bring in key phrases or ideas from the company's mission statement, and point to specific programs or initiatives that are moving toward that mission. For example, "When I joined this company, I was taught that our main goal was to produce the best product possible for physicians. Since I've been here, we've consistently worked with that goal in mind and seen results." This is a key area of the speech where you can introduce a short personal story that's connected to your work or transition into the company.
End With Motivation
End by pointing to the year ahead, and discuss the goals and initiatives you're excited about in the coming months. This helps you motivate the audience and turn toward the possibilities that lie ahead. When you do so, you end on a good note, rather than returning to thanking or omitting names from your speech. An example is, "We've accomplished so much this year, that I'm excited to see what the next four quarters will bring now that we've enacted a new structure." Thank everyone, and wish everyone an exciting new year with much success to come.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.