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The Office Party Guide

Not many things are as eagerly anticipated as the end of year office party. This is the one time you’ll want to go all out to thank your employees for a job well done, so the event should provide real value for money as well as a good time for all concerned.  In fact, the end of year office bash is also a very good way of saying thank you to customers, clients and suppliers, but it is surprising how many businesses don’t make the most of what should be a good opportunity for networking, for cementing existing relationships and forging new ones. If guests have been invited, it is a good idea to make certain that the staff are given information on the people coming so that they can open conversations and introduce them to other guests. There is nothing more cringe-worthy than a visiting MD being asked, “So what department do you work in?”  Also it is vital that employees don’t just huddle together in a corner or only talk to the clients they know well. Even the end of year bash is a business party first and a social event second, and the whole point is to get to know new people, so they should all circulate! However it is a party so they shouldn’t just talk shop, although talking about sex or money is generally considered crass. Politics should also be avoided because of the impassioned opinions it usually brings forth even if avoiding this may be difficult in our current climate. I’ll also add football to this list as Kenyans have taken to English footie in such a fashion that supporting a rival club can sometimes result in  grievous bodily harm.

If you wish to get a little amorous with a co-worker remember you are on show to everyone at the party and you don’t want to do anything you’ll regret later on or fodder for gossip. Keep your hands to yourself and stick to being friendly and professional on the night. Whilst it is essential to provide plenty of food and drink – too much drink can cause problems. In the words of one expert, "Alcohol should supplement the party, complement your party, but never dominate your party! In fact it is a good idea to alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water and pace yourself. You can always hit your local afterwards for a stronger nightcap. And whatever you do as the host, don't ever encourage people to get drunk!  Also don’t be that guy closing the party at 4am in the morning when the cleaners are coming in. By midnight you should have had your fun, call it a night or take the party elsewhere. And regardless of how many vodka tonics you had the previous night, if the following day is a work day you still need to show up.

There may very well be a dress code but in the end it is up to each individual to decide what sort of an impression they want to make and what sort of company image they wish to project.  But it is as well to remember that notwithstanding the free flowing alcohol it is a company event. If Black Tie is not specified then a suit with a tie for men and a smart, elegant outfit for ladies should suffice. This is the time you can dress up and put on the glitz if you feel like it, but again, it is best not to go over the top. The rule of thumb for the ladies says it is best not to flash too much flesh

If you are ‘the boss’ then you cannot afford to be the life and soul of the office party. In a small business where everyone works together and there is no real hierarchy ‘the boss’ will usually mingle easily with everybody.  If, on the other hand the organisation is large and most of the directors don’t have day to day dealings with their staff, it can be quite inhibiting if the CEO comes to the party as people might feel they should be on their best behaviour. In that case the CEO and other board members should put in an appearance at the beginning of the evening but not linger too long so that the other employees can enjoy themselves. If staff are allowed to bring partners to the party, this can be tough on some husbands and wives, as they can feel quite left out if the conversation is continually about office politics or gossip. If they are invited, it is up to their partners who work there to look after them and introduce them to other members of staff. Make sure they are given a drink or something to eat and that they are not left alone for too long while you are chatting to your colleagues. And it goes without saying that if there is dancing, they should be the first people you dance with. Ever seen that episode of “The Office” where David Brent does his boogie? By all means cut loose on the dance floor but don’t create a spectacle!

Giving a talk at the Platinum Speakers Bureau


About Public Image


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills.

Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market


Great WSJ article on speaking to win business

A host of entrepreneurs have found that conquering public speaking can be the route to more contacts and customers. Impressing people with your expertise at a conference, in a classroom or over the radio can sometimes win more business than making sales calls or manning a booth at a trade show. Not to mention that the most successful speakers can make quite bit of money for an appearance.

Of course, it's not always easy to get started. Many people in general suffer from stage fright, or simply don't think they have anything to say to an audience. In many cases, they have to get up to speed with the help of speakers' groups such as Toastmasters International, or even coaches and therapists. But those who have done it often say it's worth the effort, for both their business and their self-esteem. Read more about what entrepreneurs have learned about finding their voice—and using it to land clients. Give a speech - win a client

2010 has been a growing year for Public Image. We have been involved in more training programs than ever with more planned for 2011. It seems organisations are seeing the importance of investing in people especially in soft skills such as corporate image, business etiquette and communication skills. My speaking engagements at companies, colleges and associations have also become part of the Public Image programme. I hope to see you in 2011 and wish you all a wonderful holiday period.


We are delighted to have worked with the following clients through training or talks since our last Newsletter.


1. Chase Bank
2. The Ramco Group of Companies
4. KCA University
5. Africa Fashion Fair
6. Geothermal Development Corporation
7. Hilton Hotel
8. Enablis Business Launchpad Top 100 finalists
9. Regional Centre on Small Arms
10. Kenyatta University School of Law
11. South C Ladies Group
12. Nairobi Utumishi Rotary Club
13. Platinum Speakers Bureau
14. Toyota
15. Nairobi University Greenhorn Mentorship Programme
16. Dolphin Training and Consultants



Smile your way to the top


I flew to Zanzibar in November on a regional airline which shall remain nameless except to say their colours are white and orange. A good strong smile is a winning asset in any business but especially in the hospitality or travel industry – something this airline’s cabin and ground crew definitely need to work on. A smile will not only influence how someone reacts to you face to face, but it will also warm your voice. For example while giving the safety announcement demo on the airline – believe me people would take more notice if you smiled while doing it. It is amazing what effect a really bright smile can have. It can light up a plain face, and more importantly, break down the invisible barriers that exist between us all. Our expressions can have a material effect on the way we think and the way we feel. Want to be remembered? A smiling face is an appealing face, giving an agreeable first and lasting impression. Someone who doesn’t smile is quickly forgettable.

According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman whatever task you undertake physical or mental when you grimace or frown while doing it, you are sending your brain the message, “This is really difficult. I should stop.” The brain then responds by sending stress chemicals into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes. When you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do this!” I’m not advocating grinning like an idiot 24/7, but smiling is contagious and no matter how grave the meeting or bored with your job you are (note to the cabin crew girls) a smile can change the other person’s emotional state in a positive way. The reverse is also true. Try smiling at security guards, waiters, anyone in the service industry and note the change in customer service. Life is too serious anyway so it’s worth a try!

Speaking at the Nairobi University Greenhorn Mentorship Programme students


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