March 15, 2007

Do you thank your audience?

I've heard that a speaker should never say "thank you" at the end of a presentation, because "the audience should be thanking me."

I'm curious to hear what others think about this. I think it's common courtesy to thank the audience - they invited me, they came to hear me, they sat and listened to me speak for however long. Why shouldn't I thank them?

Especially when I've led a workshop or training and people have participated, opened themselves up, tried new things, shared their fears or concerns, and generally helped to make the event fun and productive. Doesn't the audience deserve some credit for making this work?

I believe that public speaking is a two-way conversation with individuals in an audience. I always want to hear what they have to say and, furthermore, I know that other audience members also benefit from each other's participation.

If a speaking engagement has been successful, it's because the audience "played along" with me and did their part. Why shouldn't I thank them for that? Not saying "thank you" seems like some sort of manipulative game to me.

What do you think?

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13 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

I think if a speaker is paid to speak to a group, that group has probably paid for that speaker through a conference fee, registration fee, or in some way has put money in the pocket of the people paying for the speaker. Thanking them, the audience, is a nice gesture I think. And I think that goes for an unknown speaker to a world famous speaker. Grattitude has lot's of lattitude.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, Tony. You're right about that. Now, what if the speaker is not paid?

Anonymous said...

I think it is Bruce Forsythe who often says "you have been the best audience... so much better than last weeks!". Although I wouldn't advocate comparison, and obviously Bruce's comment is said as a catchphrase, there is something in his making the audience feel special. I believe if you can convey your appreciation of the audience, without it seeming false, or just flattery, the audience will feel good about themselves and you too.

Rowan Manahan said...


I constantly bemoan the loss of the old courtesies. The most confident, guru-like speakers I have seen (including Peters, Handy, Clinton) ALWAYS have the humility to thank their audiences.

I saw a priest delivering a very strong, thought-provoking sermon on why he didn't like the expression "Merry Christmas" and he thanked the congregation for listening.

The one thing that the richest and the poorest have in common is 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. If an audience is willing to give me some of their time, attention and headspace; then paid or unpaid, I always thank them.


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you for your insightful comments (there I go thanking people again). I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this.

And I do love telling my audience how great they are. :-)

simonr said...

Of course you should thank your audience! After all, a presentation is a performacne, sure, but it's also a contract.

You do your bit by performing and they do their bit by listening. (I blogged about it a while ago - and I find it useful, 'cos it means an audience is more likely to WANT to think you're good.... otherwise they've wasted their times :) )

Public speaking is at worst, a parasitic activity but at best it's a synergistic activity with everyone benefiting from everyone else's being there!

... but I'm biased :)

Lisa Braithwaite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you, Simon. I totally agree about the "contract" between speaker and audience. Please share the link to your blog post!

Anonymous said...


Very well written and very true. When I conduct classes, the final thing I do is thank the class. I tell them how much I appreciate them allowing me to work with them.

Laura Bergells said...

Saying thank you at the end of a presentation isn't the strongest close in the world, but it's perfectly acceptable if you a) actually mean it and b) the audience seems grateful. You need both conditions to make the 'thank you' genuine.

What if you bomb and the audience hates you and what you have to say? Say "thank you" - then defiantly drop the mike and walk of stage?

The worst 'thank you' is the 'thank you' slide. It assumes an awful lot. If you mean thank you, say it. Don't print it out.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Laura, I don't consider "thank you" to be a closing. The closing is the cool thing you do before "thank you." If you don't have a strong closing and you're all of a sudden finished and say "thank you" abruptly, then that's a terrible way to end. But that's not what I (or you) teach.

Daniel Pennington said...

I work with a professional speaker trainer who is insistent that no one ends with 'thank you' although we are in the south and it's very hard to get people to stop. I think you can make it very apparent that you are one, happy to be here, and two, appreciative of their focused attention without saying it outright.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I just don't understand the whole beating around the bush here: if you're happy to be here and appreciative of their focused attention, does that NOT warrant a thank you? Why the verbal tricks?

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