September 12, 2007

More about thanking the audience



I got a couple of e-mails the other day from Grant Bjornson, president of the Lindsay Toastmasters in Canada, that reminded me of the issue about thanking your audience.

"Hello Lisa,

You have a super website and the ideas work. I just ran across your site on a Google search of the keywords 'thank the audience'. I'm president of the local Toastmasters club and the issue keeps re-surfacing in our meetings.

I notice that most entertainers, bands et al do thank the audience at the end of the performance (even the biggest names do it) and it seems right. I forwarded your URL to the rest of our exec board, but information overload being what it is, some will study it and some won't! Maybe I'll commit heresy and give them an educational talk on the subject."

It's interesting to me, and somewhat disturbing, that there could be so much controversy around something as simple as saying "Thank you" at the end of your presentation. Lucky for me, I pick and choose the rules that work for me and my audience, and do things my own way.

If I disagree with a traditional public speaking rule, I just do away with it altogether. It's more important to me, by far, to have rapport with the audience and serve their needs than it is to be an automaton who follows all the rules. As Scott Ginsberg says, "That's how I roll."

Here's Grant's follow-up:

". . .I'd send you a further comment (or rant?) on the subject if you don't mind!

There is strong evidence for thanking the audience, from Dale Carnegie's old book to the Rolling Stones 'Biggest Bang' DVDs. Performers can show appreciation several ways, including but not limited to the words 'Thank you' (and speakers ARE performers).

Other ways to show that the audience is appreciated are actions, gestures, even the way you dress that day or the choice of topic. If you feel it inside you usually want to express it somehow. Is it a matter of HOW it's done so it's appropriate?

I don't know the source of the stance against it, but sometimes people follow rules blindly, without realizing that a rule may work in one situation and not another.

In our Toastmasters Club we respect the overall organization and we 'render unto Caesar'. We also like new ideas and we experiment. I never thought much about thanking the audience or not, but now you've made me curious to learn more.

I plan to give an 'educational' talk on the subject, and my fellow members can 'try it on for size', because saying 'thank you' is a good thing in any language."

Right on, Grant! And thank you!

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