Is there a set formula for thanking a Guest Speaker at a function or event?
While there is no set structure or “correct” way to do a Thank You Speech, there are plenty of wrong ways!
Thanking a Speaker is one of the important roles or duties of the Master of Ceremonies, although at some events the thanking of the Guest Speakers can be done by other people. Sometimes, if the Guest is a high profile VIP, the CEO or President may step in to share a bit of the limelight at the end, but usually it’s up to the MC.
So what are some of the important guidelines and pitfalls to avoid.
Thanking a Speaker – Keep it Short
Do you remember the first rule of being an MC?
It’s not about you!
Keep the “Thank You” short and to the point. Two or Three Minutes is usually more than enough time to say what you need to say.
Remember, a good speaker will have constructed their speech with a beginning, middle and end. If you jump up and waffle on repeating chunks of their speech and the main ideas, it in many ways breaks that structure and dilutes the impact of the presentation.
That being said, I do think it is a great idea to remark on a couple of points raised during the presentation in your Thank You Speech.
Thanking a Speaker – Remark on a Point
I always like to make a very brief comment on at least one point raised during the presentation. There’s a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, it shows you were paying attention and at that moment you are expressing the thoughts of the audience and organisers.
Secondly, you can link the speech back to the Theme of the event. Reinforce the “Why” that you established with your client.
Thirdly, you can link the speech back to the “Benefit” gained by the audience.
We discussed those last two points in our article on writing a Great Opening Speech, so your Thank You can really tie back into that.
For instance, you might remark on a surprising statistic or fact brought up by the speaker …
“Wow, I never knew there was so much waste in the industry.”
You could remark on an easy strategy that they mentioned …
“I’m not even an Accountant, but I’m going to try that next week when I get back to the office.”
Or relate it to the benefit for the audience …
“I think everyone has already got their moneys worth from the Tips & Tactics you just shared with us.”
There are plenty of suitable Quotes in the Expert MC Toolkit and Resource Manual that I often slip in at this point depending on the Topic and aim of the event.
Thanking a Speaker – Interesting Fact
I always like to browse the speakers website and/or have a chat to them before the speech. In this way you can be ready to spot any interesting facts that you can also use.
For instance they might tell you they have just flown in from somewhere interesting, that they are heading off somewhere, have just won a recent award or just published a new book. These things make a nice personal touch to mention.
The mention of their website is also a good “win win.” We will touch on this in a moment when we discuss Speaker Gifts, but often the most valuable thing you can give a speaker is recognition and traffic to their website.
They will usually mention their websites if that is one of their aims, but if you also mention it you can once again tie it into the theme of the event.
I might mention a downloadable resource, interesting article, video etc. I’ve often had speakers so pleased with all the extra attention that they give me their Speaker Gift, new book etc in thanks!
Keeping the Speaker Onstage
There are times that you may need to keep the speaker on stage a little longer, so paying attention to the presentation will also help you here.
For instance if the next speaker is running late or the speaker only did 20 minutes when you were expecting 60! These things happen.
Asking a few Questions, asking them to elaborate on a couple of points or opening it up to Questions from the floor are viable options at that point. If you are doing that, I always get a round of applause first to acknowledge the Presentation and then move into the next phase, thanking them officially at the very end.
If you haven’t already Downloaded our free Professional MC’s Cheat Sheet, do so now, as it gives over 25 Questions you can ask ANY speaker at a moments notice and has saved my life on a number of occasions.
Speaking of Applause, a couple of points here.
Firstly, if you are leading the applause, don’t clap too close to the microphone. It can be very loud!
Secondly, try not to talk over applause. As soon as you talk, people will stop applauding. Let it naturally start to fade and then start speaking.
Are there going to be Gifts for each Speaker? Do all Speakers get them or only some?
These are the questions you need to ask early on.
If there are going to be gifts, what are they? Where are they going to be positioned?
Gifts for Speakers can range from Certificates, small Statues, Engraved Plaques, huge bouquets of Flowers, Bottles of Wine, fancy Gift Pens and hefty Books.
Knowing what you have to deal with is important. Can you hold it with one hand, microphone in the other? Do you bring it back on stage with you when you move up to thank the speaker or is it positioned onstage?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help at this point, especially if it is a larger gift. A nice way to do it is have someone else bring the gift up beside you as you are thanking the speaker, so you can focus on the words and then turn, take the gift and present it.
If you do have to move over to a back table or bend down behind the lectern to grab a gift, make sure you stop talking while you do it.
Handle with care! Even if the gift is a small cheap object, handle it as if it was a very expensive one.
Likewise, don’t refer to it as a “small token of our appreciation” or a “small gift.” It’s a token or a gift.
Finally, the best thing you can give a speaker as a gift is your full attention. Do your homework before the event, get their name right, give them a good introduction, thank them well at the end, and inspire the audience to take action. If you do all these things well, the bottle of wine or small engraved plaque fade into insignificance.
Always repeat the name of the Speaker when you thank them. At some events there may not be a program or agenda and the audience may not know who is speaking. They perhaps are not even interested in the speech at the start of the speech but then they want the info by the end, so state it clearly as you either thank them or as they leave the stage.
Click here for Tips on Pronouncing Names
This factor could probably go into the “Housekeeping Article” but it’s something that happens quite a lot, so you should be aware of it. Many Speakers sell books and other merchandising directly after their speech. Sometimes they will ask you to mention it, hold the book up, explain where the sales table is etc. If they do ask, it is very important that you do it. Often Speakers will rely on the extra income to help cover their costs if they are not getting paid a fee to speak.
A nice way to handle this is to ask the speaker in the Thank You, “Do you have copies of your Book available?” and then let them do a quick sales pitch.
Script Structure of Thank You Speech
So now we have seen the type of things that you should include in your Thank You Speech, here is quick structure that works.
Final Thanks / Gift
If possible in your Comment, touch on the “Big Picture” and then also relate it to the individuals in the audience.
For some Tips on establishing what the “Big Picture” is, check out this Resource.
Tony, on behalf everyone here today, thank you for taking the time to speak to us .
Your insights into Global Pollution and how it is impacting the lives of so many people was both fascinating and disturbing
but I particularly liked hearing about some the new initiatives being put into place in this country
and learning those 5 simple steps we can all put into practice in our lives.
Once again, on behalf of the entire Financial Planners Association
… Thank You
And would you please accept this Gift from all of us …
As they leave mention their full name again.
Thank You Words
Here are a few different example phrases to show you the type of thing that could be included in a Thank You Speech. There are plenty more in the Expert MC Toolkit & Resource Manual.
“Thank You for sharing Your Journey with us, so hopefully we can avoid some of the potholes on ours”
“Thanks for your Insights into this most important topic that I know affects all of us here.”
“People are like Tea -Bags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.”
“Marcel Proust famously said … It’s not a matter of changing our landscape, but of changing our eyes. Thank You for changing the way we see …….”
“On behalf of everybody here ….. “