This is Why You Should Never Thank Your Audience

...a public speaking tip

After joining Toastmasters International, and completing one of my first speeches, my ending line was to “thank” the audience. Saying thanks after a speech is a “usual” and traditional ending. My mentor and the founding member of the club quickly gave me some wise advice:

You Should Never Thank Your Audience

“Never thank your audience”.

I asked why…

He said that “We, the audience, should be thanking you the speaker for allowing us to be in attendance during your speech.”

He continued; “As a speaker, YOU are the expert. We are here to learn from you and should be grateful for the opportunity.”

I must say these were wise words and a wonderful ego-booster too!

Ever since that day I have kept these words in my mind. This has helped me to quell my nerves before and during any speaking opportunity since.

Just as with any business or self-help book I’ve read over the years, I know I can learn from this opportunity.

No matter how many pages the book may be or how long I must sit in the audience listening to another speaker, I can take away something of surprising value from it. Even if it’s only 1 small piece of advice, it may help me in my personal or professional life. That makes it well worth the time or money spent.

1st Best Speech Award

Here I am after winning “Best Speech of the Night” for my 1st Toastmasters speech, the “Icebreaker”.

Let’s face it: nerves will always be a part of any presentation. But what has helped me greatly is that I know I am sharing valuable information and insights with the audience. I am there to help, to educate, to inform and even to inspire.

Does this make me an expert? No, not necessarily. But it does make me someone that can share knowledge and wisdom garnered through my years of experience.

With this mindset it’s amazing how quickly your nerves go away. Try it…

So remember: Public speaking provides a sensational opportunity to teach, coach and develop others. Believe that you ARE the expert and are there to help.

The heck with nerves, you have more important things to do... Click To Tweet
This post is adapted from a recent ‘Tips on Thursday’ feature, only available to subscribers of this blog. If you haven’t already subscribed, take a moment to do so today and get insider access to my special tips each Thursday.

Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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14 thoughts on “This is Why You Should Never Thank Your Audience

  1. I don’t think this is one of those “never” hard and fast rules. Your audience gave you the gift of their attention. A very precious gift. You gave them (hopefully) something of great value to them. I gracious “Thank you so much for your attention. I hope I have offered you something of value” is not out of place. Don’t buy into the strict Toastmasters “do this” don’t do that”. That is not the real world.

    • Hi Tom,

      I agree the “never” is probably too harsh an idea but I stand with the thought behind it. Just as we should have a strong opening to a presentation, our close should be equally strong. Saying thank you is polite and appropriate but that can be said a sentence or two before the final words.

      Thanks for your visit and comment.

  2. I am a Toastmasters member and have been presenting in business for 20 years. I disagree that a presenter should not thank his/her audience.

    A good company recognizes it is in business due to its customers, and thus should thank its customers. It is because of said customers that company is in business.

    A good musician, artist, author, and countless other professions, ought to realize he/she is in business due to his/her followers, and as such should thank them. It is because of those followers that CDs, paintings, artistic renderings, books, etc are purchased, which employs (pays the salary) for those professions. Without those followers, those musicians, artists, authors, etc would not be in business.

    Similarly, it is BECAUSE of my audience that I have someone to whom I am able to address. It is BECAUSE of them, I might be considered the “expert” on a topic. It is because of them that I have been requested as the presenter or given time at the lectern during a Toastmasters meeting. Regardless, each person in the audience has given up precious time in his/her life to listen to me. Therefore, I will always, and do always, thank my audience, though always at the beginning of the presentation.

    Being thankful is not a crutch; it is a form of being humble and recognizing that you are “in business” due to someone else.

    Be gracious and thank someone today.

    • Hi Roberta,

      As I have mentioned before, my intent is not to do away with a thank you to the audience. I agree fully with each of your reasons for thanking them. I just don’t think the final words from the stage should be thank you.

      We can give thanks at the onset, the middle and 3 sentences before the end. I just wish to have a final substance thought/comment as my final words so the audience can have that as the final words heard.

      Thank you Roberta.
      Steve

  3. I am in my 32nd year as a Toastmaster (I am an Accredited Speaker and DTM) and hear that same advice when I joined. Since then I have read an article from the 1940’s ny Ralph Smelly, founder of Toastmasters, titled “Mea Culpa” in which he apologized for promulgating that advice. He later concluded that, if that is part of your message, say it. Do not try to use it as a crutch for a weak ending, however, it doesn’t work and may call more attention to the weakness of your ending.

    • Hi Hal,
      Wow, 32 years in Toastmasters, well done. My club is 12 years old and has received the President’s Distinguished Club designation each year. A great group of people and I assume it is the same with yours.

      I do find that creating a “strong” ending is much more difficult than it seems but have been getting better, I hope. For those that end with a thank you, it may be too abrupt without the requisite conclusion that circles back or completed the speech’s idea. I do agree it may call more attention for a weak speech.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment – welcome to the team!

  4. Hi Steve!

    Thanks, as always, for the thought provoking ideas. While I agree with 99% of your post, I struggle to imagine a world where I didn’t thank the audience.

    Should they be thanking us? Of course! :o) And they will with applause, back of room sales or continued interactions. I do feel that I need to acknowledge the time, effort and energy they have expended to go on this journey with me. Whether it’s an hour or 3 days, they put in effort, too. Since they have chosen to spend some of their precious time with me, it seems only fitting.

    I also agree that we need to leave them with a pondering thought or last nugget of inspiration, and I do that, too. To me, a quick thank you after that puts a nice bow on the presentation and is a clear indication that we’re done.

    If you are willing, I would love to hear how you end your presentations without the thank you. Maybe I just can’t “hear it” in my head.

    Thanks again, Steve!!

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I shared this post on LinkedIn and received many comments that argue for saying thank you so I think I must clarify.

      Of course I want to thank the audience but not as the final words said from the stage. I thought that was apparent from the opening paragraph but was not stated as clearly as I should have.

      We can, during the Q&A portion of the speech, offer our thanks and appreciation but then go into the final portion of the speech and end with a bang.

      Some ending lines can be a surprise fact, interesting and statistic funny anecdote or famous quote that all correlates with the speech topic. Also rephrasing the speech title in a different way as a “remember to…” is another way.

      Or we can do what many comedians do, just say “Good night” with a mic drop!

  5. Dear Mr. Steve,
    ” Facing challenges with strength, determination, and confidence is what matters, and you have done it.” Congratulations !!
    To you for the recent award which you have won with your sheer talent and impressive speaking skills.
    You are very Important to the troubled nation. Because Whether your speech or article is related to any employment or about the behaviors or attitude of the Managers/staff, no matter what your idea or the discussion or the explanation is all about a real life experience of a conscious human being. I can say that, just all about the Universal theory which human has been intentionally ignored or forgotten due to 24x7x364 Marathon.
    You gave me a free subscription to your blog, which I am Very Thankful to you. The Content is simple and very elaborated to the point.
    Thanks and Good luck.
    Janaka

    • How kind of you, Janaka. Your words are very uplifting and humbling as well. Glad you have been enjoying my blog posts. Feel free to share any post with your friends and family. Hopefully they too can find value in them.

  6. Found your article to be very interesting. Since a offer trainig courses, and speeches, it has always been my ending line to thank the audience for their presence and participation.

    Your article definetely has a strong point, but the question is: does the audience expect you to thank them or not….

    Not thanking them, could make them think that you don t care for their presence ???

    • Hi Tommy,
      Not thanking our audience, without any other show of appreciation, may leave an negative impression as you mention. But, a speech should be filled with value, tips, tactics and special information that, when presented in a “sharing mindset” should already show caring.

      But I have another take on this topic…

      Just as we should have strong opening for our speech we need a strong one for it’s close. Just giving thanks and leaving the stage doesn’t leave the audience wanting more or a final thought or piece of info to ponder as they leave.

      We can show appreciation and thanks during the Q&A portion of the speech, which by the way should never be at the conclusion of the speech.

      Then finish strong with a surprise or famous quote, etc. and leave on a high note.

  7. Steve, I seem to be somewhat torn about the concept of not saying thank you. After all, quite a few news anchors say thank you to their television audiences. Yet, I can see your point that the audience should be thanking you for imparting your knowledge on whatever your speech topic happens to be, and the reason you give a speech is to benefit everyone listening to you.
    Also, I myself have been toying with the idea of looking into my local chapter of Toastmasters. Yes, I have given speeches to groups (mostly through my volunteerism efforts), but –as you have said –there is always something new to learn.
    Lastly, I enjoyed seeing the photo of you and your awards! Must have been a great speech!

    • Hi Lisa,
      Regarding the thank you, I would refer you to my response to Tommy above. Either way it’s all subjective and will work or won’t work depending on how the audience responded to you during the speech.

      I would definitely recommend joining a local chapter of Toastmasters. Each may be run somewhat differently but they all follow the same guidelines and they are a great vehicle to improve speech making, leadership and confidence in front of an audience.

      I’m been a member for over a year and that photo was after my first speech, and I won “best speech of the night”. Pretty cool…