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How to Give a Thank You Speech

Four Methods:Sample Thank You SpeechesComposing Your SpeechPracticing Your SpeechDelivering Your Speech

If you've received an award or been publicly honored, you might be called upon to give a thank you speech. It's a chance to express how sincerely grateful you are to the people who helped you along the way, and perhaps share a funny story or two to make your audience smile. If you want to learn how to compose a great thank you speech and deliver in a way that shows you really mean it, see Step 1.

Sample Thank You Speeches

Sample Thank You for Coming

Sample Thank You for Award

Method 1
Composing Your Speech

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    Start with an expression of gratitude. Right off the bat, you can start by saying thank you for the award or honor you're receiving. An acknowledgement of why you're giving the speech is the most natural way to start. Your expression of gratitude will set the tone for the rest of your speech. As you decide exactly what you want to say, take the following factors into account:[1]
    • The type of honor you're receiving. To give thanks for an award or professional honor, say something like "I'm so honored to be here tonight, and grateful to be the recipient of this award."
    • The formality of the event. If it's a more casual event, like an anniversary party thrown by your friends and family, your expression of thanks can be a bit warmer. For example, you could say "I can't express how grateful I am to have all of you here with us tonight."
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    Talk about your esteem for the people honoring you. This gives you an opportunity to go a little deeper and make the people who are responsible for giving you award feel good. Whether you're being honored by your company, another organization or people you know well, take few minutes to express your sincere regard for them.
    • If you're being honored by your company, talk about the great work the organization does, and what it pleasure it is to work there.
    • If you're receiving an award from an outside party, like an arts organization awarding you for a film you directed, talk about how honored you are to be recognized by such a great organization.
    • If you're giving a speech to thank friends and family for honoring you, say a few words about what a special group of people you're lucky to have in your life.
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    Tell a funny or poignant story. In a thank you speech, it's charming to tell an anecdote or two about something that happened leading up to the honor you're receiving. Since thank you speeches are often given at dinners and festive events, saying something to keep the mood light and bring smiles to people's faces will be appreciated.
    • You could tell a story about a funny mishap that happened during a big project you worked on, or an obstacle you had to overcome to accomplish your goals.
    • Try to bring other people into the story, too, instead of just talking about yourself. Talk about something that involves your coworkers, your boss, your kids, or other people in the audience.
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    Mention the names of people who helped you. It's nice to give credit to the people whose support helped you accomplish something worth honoring. Create a short list of colleagues, friends, and family members without whose help you wouldn't be receiving this honor.[2]
    • You can introduce the list by saying, "I'm especially grateful to a few amazing people whose support is the reason I'm up here right now." Then recite the list of people who helped you.
    • Take the audience into consideration, too. If you know your boss will be sitting in the front row, you might want to make sure you thank her.
    • This part of thank you speeches can often get tedious. Don't leave anyone important off of your list, but don't list everyone you know, either. Keep it limited to people who actually helped you.
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    End it on a high note. When you finish listing people you want to thank, the speech is just about over. End it by saying thanks once more, and repeating how sincerely grateful you are. If you want your speech to be especially memorable, you could consider including an additional flourish. For example,
    • Say something inspirational. If you're accepting an award for achievements you made for the nonprofit you work for, you could say, "Our work is far from over, but what we've accomplished together has made a difference in hundreds of people's lives. Let's roll up our sleeves and continue this journey with more dedication than ever. If we've made this much progress in just one year, think what we can do in three."
    • Dedicate the honor. You can give special appreciation to a loved one or mentor by dedicating your award to that person. Say something like, "And lastly, I want to dedicate this award to my mother. When my teachers told her they thought my dyslexia would prevent me from ever learning to read, she scoffed and told them I'd be a brilliant writer one day. It's because of her faith in me that I'm up here today accepting my first Pulitzer. I love you, mom."

Method 2
Practicing Your Speech

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    Write out your notes. A thank you speech should be fairly short, and you may be able to memorize it. However, having a note card or piece of paper with a general outline will help you make all your main points and remember all the names you want to mention.
    • Don't write out the speech word for word. When you deliver it, you'll be looking down at the paper the whole time instead of addressing the audience. You'll come off as nervous and stiff instead of sincerely grateful.
    • Try writing out just the first line of each paragraph you want to say. Then, when you glance down at your card, that first line will jog your memory.
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    Time yourself. If you're giving the speech at a formal award ceremony, there may be a designated time limit for the acceptance speeches. Ask the organization responsible for giving the awards whether there are any guidelines you should take into account. If you aren't given a time limit, see if you can find out how long other people who've received awards from the organization took for their speeches.[3]
    • As a general rule acceptance speeches are very short. Acceptance speeches for Academy Awards, for example, are limited to 45 seconds or less. Going over two or three minutes is going to end up boring people, so no matter what, aim to keep it to the point.
    • When you practice your speech, set a timer to see how long it takes. You might want to record yourself so you can listen to the speech and identify parts you can shave off if your speech is too long. The most essential part of the speech is the expression of gratitude; the rest can be lopped if necessary.
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    Practice in front of someone who makes you nervous. If you're not much for public speaking, try giving your speech to a person or group of people who make your stomach erupt with butterflies. Practice giving the speech four or five times, or as many times as it takes to be able to deliver it without your heart beating fast and your breath quickening. That way, when it's time to give it to your real audience, you'll be less likely to get stage fright.
    • Solicit feedback from the people listening to your speech. Ask them which parts drag on too long, or if there's anything you didn't say that should be included.
    • Make sure you deliver the speech to at least one person you trust to give you totally honest feedback.
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    Replace filler words with pauses. Most people naturally fill in awkward moments with "um," "uh" or "like." Train yourself to eliminate these words from your speech. Instead of using a filler word, just pause and be silent for a moment. Your speech will end up sounding poignant and well rehearsed, rather than thrown together.
    • To help yourself eliminate the filler words, listen to a recording of yourself talking. Try to catch the spots where you tend to fill in the blank with "um" or "uh." Practice saying those lines without filler until you're able to deliver the whole speech that way.
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    Work on looking and sounding natural. Helping your audience feel the depth of your gratitude is the whole point of a thank you speech, and it's very hard to make that happen if you seem stiff, or worse, arrogant or ungrateful. Practice doing the things you'd normal do during a conversation: gesturing a bit with your hands, smiling, pausing and laughing. Make sure the way you inflect your words conveys the emotion you're feeling.

Method 3
Delivering Your Speech

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    Calm your nerves right before the speech. If you tend to get the jitters right before you speak in public, take some time beforehand to calm yourself down. For some people, those nerves don't go away no matter how many times they have to speak in public. Luckily, there are some tried and true methods you can use to prepare yourself to speak clearly and calmly:
    • Try visualizing yourself delivering the speech without stumbling. Deliver the whole thing in your head without a hiccup. This technique can help you feel less anxious when it comes to the real thing.
    • Some people find it helps to laugh heartily before giving a speech. It puts you in a more relaxed mood.
    • If you have the opportunity to do some vigorous exercise before the event, that's another great way to release nervous energy.
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    Make eye contact with audience members.[4] Remember not too look down at your note cards too much; just glance at them now and then to remind yourself of what you want to say. Pick two or three different people in the audience, seated in different areas, and make eye contact with them in rotation as you're talking.
    • Making eye contact will help you deliver the speech with more feeling. You can pretend like you're giving it to a friend, rather than a faceless crowd of people.
    • Rotating between more than one person is important. When you look at more than one spot in the audience, the whole group will feel more included in what you're saying.
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    Remember your gratitude as you're talking. You might be so worried about forgetting part of your speech that you forget the reason why you're up there giving it. Think about the meaning behind your words as you say them, and deliver your speech with the true emotions you feel about the honor you're receiving. Think about the hard work you did to earn the award, and all the people who helped you along the way. If you do this, your speech will come off as sincere.
    • If it's possible to look at the people you're thanking as you say their names, try to do so. For example, if you're thanking a colleague who's sitting in the first row, your gratitude will be more apparent if you're able to focus on her while you're talking.
    • Don't be embarrassed if you tear up a little. It happens all the time during thank you speeches.
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    Leave the stage on cue. When your speech is complete, smile at the audience and leave the stage when you're supposed to. Hogging the stage for extra time is a classic move during acceptance speeches, but it tends to bore the audience and leaves less time for the next person up for an award. After your allotted time is up, graciously leave the stage and return to your seat.
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    Say thoughtful words that could make people emotional and feel like" Oh this person is so thoughtful and sweet." Saying different kinds of words will matter.


  • Acknowledge the audience that has come to witness the occasion.
  • Use the standard three-part speech structure. You need an opening to introduce yourself and your subject, the body of your speech where you expand on your subject and a conclusion where you summarize and finish.
  • Run the speech through by yourself until you are fluent and then ask a trusted friend to sit in to watch and listen. Ask for feedback on: appropriateness of content and tone, transitions from one point to the next, delivery - voice, body language, sincerity, timing.
  • If you can, use cue cards rather than a word-for-word script. Cue cards allow you to appear and be more spontaneous with the audience.
  • Write what the award means to you - including reference to the values/goals/aspirations the donor organization represents and how they inspire you.


  • Humor in Acceptance/Thank-you speeches needs careful handling. If you mock or denigrate yourself too much, you are also mocking or minimizing the organization giving the honor. They thought you were worthy. You don't want to offend by telling them you're not and calling their judgement into question.

Article Info

Categories: Public Speaking