Should you say “thank you, Toastmasters” at the end of your speech?
We are celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States this week. It’s a time to think about the things we’re grateful for and express our gratitude to those who have blessed us.
I am extremely grateful to many Toastmasters I have met over the years. My life has been blessed by men and women who have demonstrated public speaking skills and leadership skills. And frankly, they’ve made my life a lot more fun. Where else would I have learned about self-priming jiggle pumps?
I should thank my club for teaching me about painting with diamonds or why your arteries are like pumpkin roll pastries – neither of which I knew before tonight.
Yes, an audience should thank the speaker. But what about the speaker thanking the audience?
It’s a Toastmasters controversy.
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Say Thank You, Toastmasters?
I was watching a webinar yesterday and the host introduced the speaker who immediately said,
“Good afternoon. Like the host said, my name is Dr. X and I would like to tell you why I’m leading this webinar.”
Then, her feed froze and we looked at her stationary PowerPoint slide presentation for about 3 minutes till the host came back to the meeting. Then the speaker restarted her speech and ran long, concluding with “thank you.”
You know what I did. I went into Toastmasters mode. The evaluation mode. Why didn’t the host have a better introduction? Why did the speaker waste our attention on details that the introduction should have covered? What happened to the feed? What could both of them have done better? What challenges do they have?
It’s the danger of being in Toastmasters. Most people don’t expect an evaluation of the technical aspects of public speaking. Fortunately, I had to leave before I succumbed to the temptation to make some comments.
People do not say thank you Toastmasters when you point out their points of improvement when they don’t ask.
Since I wasn’t really getting into the material of the webinar and focusing more on the style of presentation, quite honestly, I wasn’t very grateful to the presenter. When she got to the conclusion and said “thank you,” it caught me up. “You’re not supposed to say thank you. The audience is supposed to thank you.”
The Controversy of Thank You, Toastmasters
There are some Toastmasters who will always point out when a speaker thanks to the audience. No no no! They need to thank you!
I’ve done this sometimes too. When I’ve mentored new members, I explain that ending with a thank you instead of a clear call to action means your audience is off the hook to act. They’ve been thanked – they think they’ve done enough already.
And that’s not wrong.
But expressing gratitude to your audience can’t be wrong, can it? I don’t think so.
So how can we express our gratitude in our speech and still motivate our audience to act?
According to a study reported on the website Psyche Central dot com, (link is in the show notes,) the act of saying “thank you” actually does motivate your audience. This is a quote from the report:
…The experimenters found that people weren’t providing more help because they felt better or it boosted their self-esteem, but because they appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.
This feeling of social worth helps people get over factors that stop us helping. We are often unsure our help is really wanted and we know that accepting help from others can feel like a failure. The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more.
Gratitude is a factor in relationships
It expresses respect and honor for the other person. It reinforces our commitments and motivates people to be willing to further.
I’ve read that some Europeans don’t understand the American inclination to say thank you so often. Here in the US, it’s not uncommon to hear a parent urge a child to say “thank you” as a polite response, and to help the child understand the value of respecting those who do things for us. Especially in certain parts of the US, this training is ingrained in us. In case you think I’m kidding – I’ve been known to say “thank you” to vending machines.
But I don’t think that gratitude is only an American thing – that would be a huge mistake. Everyone appreciates being thanked.
Which is why I think this idea that we shouldn’t thank the audience, they should be thanking you – should be put aside.
We need to consider how we motivate our audience to act – and thanking them has a considerable role in how effective we are.
Motivation During Speech Writing
I think that question is the key question when you write a speech. What’s your call to action? How can you motivate your audience to do what you’re asking?
The obvious answer is to recognize the value of their commitment to the action or cause you’re promoting. If you’ve done a good job in the body of your speech, your audience will be on your side and ready to go. Did you give them a vision of their future and the importance of their act?
Your speech style is unique to you – but you can work to improve it to make it more motivation or more inspirational.
Perhaps another way might be to have a final word with the Toastmasters as you shake hands or transfer control of the screen to the Toastmaster of the day. “Thank you, Madam Toastmasters and my fellow Toastmasters” can be said with sincerity without beating it over the audience’s head.
Sometimes, you do get to be a bit sarcastic in the final thanks. This does work best with humor: “Thank you so much, Mr. Humorist, for putting that Marty Robbins earworm in my mind yet again!” when the joke of the day warrants the response.
Gratitude is Important
Many years ago, I heard a story about a person who was struggling with depression. It was suggested that this person write thank-you notes to people whom they had never thanked. The personal benefit of writing those notes made a significant difference to the writer – and those receiving those delayed thanks.
I’m not saying that writing thank you notes is going to cure depression. But I know that I feel better when I practice gratitude – when I express my thanks verbally or in the written word.
When I feel like the work I’m doing is futile, or I’ve lost the vision of what my part in a project is – a note of thanks from the team leader truly motivates me to keep on track.
That’s why Thanksgiving is important. That’s why “Thank you, Toastmasters” is important.
My Thanks to Toastmasters 101 Listeners
Which brings me to this: my last podcast episode was skipped because of the death of my sister. She had had Alzheimers Disease for many years. It was a peaceful and quiet passing. I posted a little note on the Toastmasters 101 Facebook page, and some people reached out with their condolences. I’d like to thank them.
And I’d like to thank you, my audience. As I move through this crazy year, I know that I’ve made friends through this podcast. I’m glad that you come back week after week to hear me talk about Toastmasters. I’m grateful to District 10 that they continue to sponsor this podcast. I am especially grateful to the Toastmasters International staff who answer my questions – as crazy as they sometimes are.
This week, take a moment to think who you owe some thanks – and do it. And let’s let this prohibition die. I’d be grateful if you did.