Saturday, July 26, 2008

Outline for an intimate, touching, stress-free wedding speech

I recently returned from a wedding where I was asked to give a speech – with less than 30 minutes to prepare. If you’d like to share a few words at a similar gathering I offer you this outline for an intimate, touching, stress-free wedding speech:

  1. Select a theme that illustrates a trait about the groom or bride (like how they're imaginative, caring, terrible dresser).
  2. A short introduction on how/why you know the groom or bride.
  3. Share a little-known anecdote that illustrates their wonderful trait (the more people present you can refer to in the anecdotes the better it will be received).
  4. Share another anecdote that illustrates how the bride (or groom) helps make that trait even better (or fixes a bad one).
  5. Pause for a moment, raise a glass, and toast the bride and groom with the lesson from your theme.
Extra tips:
  • Smile and make eye contact with tables in each area of the room while you’re talking.
  • When you talk about a specific person, look at them. If you’re telling an anecdote where you can’t look at the person you’re talking about pick a different one (seriously).
  • You’re not out there to look smart, clever, funny, etc. – just make everyone feel good and you’ve succeeded.
  • Keep it short - 2 to 5 minutes at most.
  • Talk slowly – there’s a natural tendency to talk quickly when addressing a large audience. You’ll be better understood if you make a point of talking slowly.
  • Practice in front of a mirror or friend.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Keeping it together: Five actions that make employees (or relations) want to stick around

Employee turnover has a tremendous cost to any organization - lost productivity, cost of recruitment, lower morale for the remaining staff, etc. Here are my top five methods that any organization can use to significantly boost retention. (Families can use them to run more smoothly as well.)

#5: Clearly defined expectations - employees often run ragged trying to figure out what their job responsibilities really include, how much is enough, and when they're pushing too hard. (Are you sure your kids, parents, siblings, or friends know what you expect of them? Is it written down?)

#4: No jerks in the office - Managers should be aware of who is ruffling the most feathers and disturbing an otherwise smooth workflow (they may need to look at themselves).

#3: Ask them what bothers them most and fix it - Managers must feel comfortable sitting
down and conducting an honest evaluation about what their staff is experiencing.

#2: Do more of what is working - There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Expand policies that employees are already enjoying. Do them bigger, better, and more often.

For example, make them available to families w
hen both decision-makers feel like they are being treated well, two (or more) opinions have to change for one employee to leave.

#1: Vision pairing - Ensure that the department's goals the same as its members. People get excited about working on something that they believe in and are proud of. Sometimes this means revisiting the hiring process to make sure the best-fits are brought on board.

Costs = zero or minimal
Effectiveness = huge. Particularly when you consider the various impacts that turnover
has on a company - both on those that leave, but especially on those that stay.

Implement these methods and you'll get to confront problems such as employees sporting these on their desks.