A Speechwriter’s Handbook: The EOS Core Values Speech

Alright. Your leadership team is finally done hammering out the EOS® Core Values. You debated them for hours. They’ve been put through every test you could think of. The team has asked themselves if the values are honest, and if the team actually lives by them. Finally, you’ve word-smithed them into something you wouldn’t mind having on your website. You aren’t done yet, though. Now it’s time for the EOS Core Values Speech.

When a company starts using the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, one of the first big challenges that looms in the future is the EOS Core Values Speech. It’s a challenge because – for many teams – it kicks off the EOS roll out. When you bring EOS to your compainy, you’re taking on a huge responsibility. First, you are becoming the teacher. When you work with an EOS Implementer, you get to be the student. But once roll out starts, the leadership team becomes responsible for making sure the company understands and implements EOS.

Second, you’re laying out a value based framework for the company. Some teams may be chomping at the bit to get in front of the organization and tell them about the core values. However, may teams are nervous, worried that the speech could go awry.

Whatever the reason, you can use this guide to help plan your EOS Core Values Speech.


Understanding The Importance Of The EOS Core Values Speech

First things first. Let’s get on the same page about how important this speech is. Your organization is going to get their first look at a) what the leadership has been doing behind closed doors and b) what you envision as the ideal employee. Core values are more than just a few fancy words on the wall that make people feel nice and fluffy. They’re the blueprint for the perfect employee. If someone matches those values and has the skill-set you’re looking for, you’re hiring them on the spot.

You owe it to your organization to drive home the real meaning of each of these core values and how important they are. If you don’t what you will have is an office full of confused or even apathetic folks. 

Now that you’re nice and terrified…


Choose A Medium Or Setting

As the saying goes, the medium is the message. How and where you give your EOS Core Values Speech is almost as important as what you actually say in it. The setting and medium do so much to set the tone of the speech and affect how people receive it. Now every company is different. And it’s important to choose the setting and medium that appropriately conveys the importance of the message and accounts for the existing company culture.

Remember that the speech is for the benefit of your employees. Choose the setting that you think will best benefit them. 

As I said, every company is different, so I can’t tell you exactly what to do. What I can do is tell you some of the very bad examples of medium/setting choices I’ve heard in the hopes you will learn from those mistakes.


Bad Examples

  1. Choosing to announce the core values in a virtual environment the employees aren’t familiar or comfortable using -> puts employees on guard
  2. A company  spending a ton of money on an event to announce the values -> seems disingenuous and detracts from the values
  3. Announcing the core values during an office party -> this doesn’t do much to convey seriousness
  4. Sending out the core values in an email -> half the employees wouldn’t even read this
  5. Cramming the core values speech into an unrelated event. -> does not convey the importance of the values

What Would Be Better?

  1. Announcing the core values on a virtual platform your team uses all the time
  2. Planning an event that focuses completely on the core values
  3. Announcing the core values in one event, then using the office party to reinforce values with awards or recognition
  4. Giving the core values speech in person and then following up with an email that details each of the values
  5. Scheduling a special event for the speech




Start By Explaining

There are nine different types of speeches. Your EOS Core Values Speech is an informative speech. That may sound obvious, or even like an unimportant distinction. However, I believe it’s important to start with that foundation for a few reasons. The most important is that you should write or design your speech to inform your company of your new Core Values not to convince them to support them.

This is critical.

Your EOS Core Values Speech isn’t meant to persuade people to believe in these values. Using EOS Core Values means that either an employee can live by those values, or they really should consider looking for other opportunities. The goal of your speech is to create absolute clarity on:

  1. What the values are,
  2. Why they are important,  and
  3. How you expect them to influence the daily lives of employees.

Explain What The Values Are

The primary goal of your speech is to lay out the Core Values in a way that every one can understand. The other aspects are important, but if you are going to do one thing right, it should be the explanation of the values themselves.

Choose someone on your leadership team that has a solid understanding of the values (that should be everyone) and a good mind for creative writing. Give that person the task of creating an explanation for each of the values. They should consider using examples of famous persons that exemplify the values as well as stories that highlight the values in practice. Another great tool is “anti-values” or ideals that are opposed to your values.

Craft a well rounded explanation that leaves no room for interpretation. This has the dual function of a) conveying the precise value to the company as a whole and b) creating a final measure of how aligned the leadership team is on the definition of the value.


Explain Why They Are Important

This will be the hardest part of the speech to write for most folks. Trying to convey why a few words on a page are important to the entire company is like counting the sand in a jar. You can do your best, but it’s unlikely you will get it in your first try.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. To get folks on board with actually believing that these values are important will take time. But, you’ve got to start somewhere. 

Right now focus on explaining why they are important. Leave the persuading for later. Craft your explanation using the story of how the leadership team came to decide on these values. These value don’t exist in a bubble. The more you can connect them to the thought process that lead to them, the better people will understand why they were chosen.

Again, this is a wonderful time to use examples of how these values have served your company in the past as well as examples of anti-values that would harm the company.


Explain How The Values Will Impact Day-to-Day Operations

Finally, you want to tie these values into the daily lives of employees. That means explaining a) how the individual values should inform behavior and b) how the value as a whole will affect the company’s processes.


How the values impact daily behaviors

I’ve found that the most effective EOS Core Values speeches use the “so the next time” approach to the first half of this explanation. You can explain the value until you are blue in the face, but it’s all theoretical until you tie that to a specific chance to actually use that value. The “so the next time method” calls out a specific and plausible hypothetical situation and tells the listener how to behave in that situation. 

It’s not only highly effective, it’s incredibly simple. After you’ve explained the value to the best of your ability, you give the audience a bit of homework. Simply introduce the hypothetical situation starting with “so the next time”. Then, outline how the core value should inform their behavior.

Of course, you don’t have to use that phrase verbatim. In fact, that would be pretty repetitive. But using the hypothetical situation to call the employees to action is an amazing tactic. So, the next time you’re writing your EOS Core Values Speech, remember to use “so the next time.” 


How the values impact company processes

Lastly, you will want to explain how these values will inform company processes. The specifics will largely be up to your leadership team to flesh out, but you want to make it clear that these values will be informing hiring, firing, rewards, and reprimands. The essence of the message is that these values will be part of being a valued employee in this company.


Tying It Together

Every speaker is different, but I find that starting from a checklist is very helpful in building your own EOS Core Values Speech. Of course, you don’t have to follow my way of doing things exactly, but it can be a great starting point.

  1. Explain Value 1
    1. Identify a person outside of the company that exemplifies that value.
    2. Tell a story of the person exemplifying that value.
    3. Give an example of that value within the company. Consider specifically identifying people that display that value every day.
    4. Explain why this value is important, using your example above.
    5. Provide anti-values to contrast your meaning.
    6. Tie your value to an analogy that you can call back on in the future.
    7. Give the value context for every day operations and behaviors
  2. Do the same for each of your values.
  3. Explain the impact these values as a whole will have
    1. hiring process
    2. Rewards and reprimands

To give you an idea of what this looks like, I’ve put together an example explanation of a core value.

  1. The first core value I want to talk to you about is honesty.
    1. It may be a bit cheesy, but I’d like to call out president Honest Abe Lincoln as someone who as an example of this value.
    2. I’m sure most of us have heard the story of Honest Abe walking two hours back to some shop to return the three or four cents of extra change they gave him. That example may just be a fairy tale we tell, but its message is one that speaks straight to us. Being honest isn’t always easy, but that shouldn’t stop us.
    3. Some of you already know this, but Karen has done a wonderful job of keeping us honest in our marketing. I admit that we’ve been tempted from time to time to promise things we can’t really guarantee we will deliver. You all know it’s been a tough year for the industry. But Karen’s dedication to honesty has kept our clients totally loyal when many of our competitors are struggling to keep up with what they’ve promised. 
    4. That’s why honesty is so important to us that it’s worth being an EOS Core Value. We know that we live and die by building lifelong relationships. Our relationships with our clients and our relationships with each other. If we can’t be honest with each other, we can’t achieve great things. And if we can’t achieve great things, we can’t provide great services to our clients.
    5. When we hide the truth, or shrink from it, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If you’re not telling your supervisor that a member of your team is slacking, it’s just holding the whole team back. If you’re promising your direct reports that raises are in the future when they aren’t, your’e undermining their trust in the company. 
    6. Honesty is our solid ground. Without it any step we take could lead to us falling flat on our faces.
    7. So the next time you’re confronted with the temptation to smudge the truth just a bit, ask yourself this question: Am I standing on solid ground with this decision? If the answer is no, you can probably guess the result.
  2. (Same for each core value)
  3. These values will also be very important in building a culture for our company in the future.
    1. As we grow and take on new employees, we will be looking for folks that really live by these values. That means making them a very explicit part of our hiring process. 
    2. Not only that, but we want to show you all that living by these values is part of being a member of our team. We’ll be introducing quarterly rewards for people that go above and beyond in exemplifying the core values. 



The Speech That Keeps On Giving

Finally, I want to remind you that this speech will be used again and again in your company. Sure, it will be revised for each purpose, but the core of it will remain the same. Your EOS Core Values Speech should appear in the following places as you move forward.


1: Roll Out

This is the occasion that you first introduce EOS and the Core Values to the company.


2: Quarterly

At every quarterly meeting you want to reignite the core values by giving a version of this speech. Usually this is a condensed version that reminds people how you have upheld your values this past quarter and what you can do in the future to continue upholding them.


3: Hiring

The hiring process should explicitly use the EOS Core Values to vet potential employees. You can read my guide on using Core Values to hire here.


4: Review Process

These values should be used to specifically assess how an employee is fitting in with the company during the quarterly 555 Meeting™.


5: Vendors

Finally, you will eventually be giving a version of this speech to your vendors and B2B relationships. You want to work with companies that will respect and uphold your values as well. That doesn’t mean you need to immediately sever relationships with companies that don’t. But as your core values become a more integral part of your company, you will find that having vendors that align with those values makes life a heck of a lot easier.

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