Smart Leaders Make Smart Speeches’s Jeff Schmitt discusses meetings, motivation, and how to keep a pep talk from turning into a “fire-and-brimstone speech.” Schmitt says, “At some point, every manager must unload a kick-in-the-ass speech.” But he details the importance of keeping it motivational as opposed to having a meltdown. You want to wake your employees up and get their attention.

First, Schmitt says to prepare your staff for your speech. You do not want your speech to come unexpectedly. Your employees will have a firmer grasp of your key points if they understood the issues beforehand. Leading your employees toward your speech also enables you to consider if your speech is merited. Your speeches are only effective when given in moderation; and as you alert your employees of your concerns, it enables you to decide if your concerns warrant a full staff meeting or if individual discussions might be more suiting. Frequent speeches become frequently ignored, so choose yours wisely.

Next, come up with a plan. You do not want to “fly off the handle” or look flustered. You want your speech to be prepared and concise. “Keep it short,” says Schmitt. Though, you must remember to include specific examples. You do not want to leave points up to implications and expect your team to read between the lines of your ambiguity. Be straightforward and set expectations. Discuss team goals, agree on them, and hold them to it. Understand that the meeting is not only about your team. Accept the flaws in your own behavior and explain to your team how you can do better as well. The idea is that there is a system of accountability not only for them, but for everyone.

After you make your points, Schmitt says that you need to “rebuild bridges.” After all, these are people that you have to work with and the last thing you need is mutiny. You want to pull your team back in with respect, understanding, and a hand of help. You need to reach out and let them know that while there are things to work on, you appreciate their hard work. Be a leader and a mentor while offering direction paired with appreciation.

Lastly, you want to maintain your behavior and the expectations you set for yourself as well as those you set for your team. Schmitt says, “You only get one or two speeches before your team tunes you out. Make this one count.” Follow up with them after your speech and keep everyone on track. Hold tight to policies and deadlines that you set and make sure the points of your speech do not fade away. If you let your points become forgotten and ignored, then your speech is rendered useless. And, a useless speech is a wasted one.

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