You know, it’s been really interesting.

Ever since I posted the Christmas Party speech here in December, a large percentage of referrals from Google to this blog have been looking for CEO speeches of various types. Amongst the speeches being searched for are ‘bad times speech’, ‘hard times speech’, ‘difficult speech to give’.

I want to help. Here’s my shot at the speech these CEO’s might be looking for:

Hello everyone. Thanks for taking the time to get together today.

I’m not going to waste your time or mince words. The reason for getting together is to bring you up to speed on the company’s status. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as we all would have anticipated even 6 short months ago.

There are several issues.

First, our sales have slowed dramatically. As you know, we count on other businesses for approximately 60% of our sales. All of them sell to consumers. And consumers have dramatically limited their spending to the point where category demand in our space if off over 40%.

Although our consumer products are doing better than most thanks to our strong brand and innovative distribution, we’re still seeing declines that we had never anticipated when we started the new plant 18 months ago.

Second, we are seeing a serious slow-down in payments from customers. In fact, our average days outstanding – the average amount of time its taking to receive customer payment has increased by 50% just in the last 30 days.

So what does this mean?

It means that we cannot be complacent.

As CEO my first priority is to ensure that this company remains strong. By remaining strong, the best interests of shareholders, customers and employees are looked after.

Effective today, we are announcing a series of actions that will make our company leaner, more efficient, more effective and ready to take advantage of the significant opportunities that we see opening as weaker, less well prepared competitors stumble.

All of us will feel the pain of these actions. However, we have not and will not stray from the core values of this organization – accountability, fairness and compassion. You have my word on that.

While it is very difficult to predict when these unique and difficult business conditions will pass, our vision remains intact. This is an incredibly talented and committed team that I am honored to lead. Working together, we will emerge stronger and more successful than ever before.

Thank you.