5 essentials of a pep talk
A while back, I and my business partner, Suraj along with another entrepreneur/leader, Pukar Malla were discussing about the challenges of being a start-up entrepreneur. And Pukar came up with this fascinating explanation; he said “it is like you’re climbing this huge mountain and you can feel how it is going to be standing on top of it. You’re struggling but you move on. But you have this group of men and women travelling with you. They are tired and want to quit. But your job as a leader is to keep them motivated, keep them united until you reach the top. And once they’re on the top, the next thing they would want to do is climb another mountain.”
1. Make it a rare occasion and short: If you’re giving pep talks to your employees every single day then that is not pep talk, it is a lecture; moreover a torture. Use pep talks as football coaches would use their substitutes. They should enter the pitch when the moment calls for it. If not, they should stay at the bench. When they do enter the pitch, they are usually the game-changers.
The differentiating factor between a pep talk and a lecture is the time-length. Don’t make it long as so your employees are wandering off. You want them to listen, visualize your words, and get highly encouraged. My recommendation would be not to exceed more than 20 minutes. Include the most important parts and leave-out the rest.
2. Channel of communication: I have seen entrepreneurs send out lengthy pep talks over emails. From the sender’s point of view, those words may seem greatly inspiring. But the reader may simply be skimming over it with a pizza in his hand and talking to a friend over the phone.
The most efficient pep talks are given in a group. Why not one-to-one because it consumes a lot of time. Also, pep talks are usually meant to raise the morale of a group. And what you have to say to one individual may apply to others as well.
3. Do not curse or criticize: There is just one objective you should have with your pep talk: to motivate your employees. This is where so many entrepreneurs go wrong. Most of these speeches are given at the time when the company is not performing up to par. And therefore many entrepreneurs emphasize on what went wrong and who did what during their pep talks. If you’re criticizing that means you’re adding pressure not motivating your employees.
4. Environment: It is exceedingly important that you get the environment right. It can be a resort far away from the city where the ambiance is more peaceful or it can be at the office itself. I try to get my employees in a compact office room where everyone is within my eye sight, all cell phones turned off and no interference in between. For the next 10 or 20 minutes during my pep talk, I make sure I get all the attention from my employees.
5. Content: The obvious and the most important part during a pep talk: the content. You can’t just walk in and start blabbering whatever comes out of your mouth. You have to prepare for it in advance just like you would for any other presentation. What you say should be wired in to their brains. They are investors at your company; they invest their time and effort. And you know as much as I do, investors need to have faith in you as a leader. Hence, the content of your pep talk should focus on why they should trust you with your words. Make them believe in you and the company’s vision. Make them believe in themselves!