Public speaking is a privilege. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be able to pursue it as a full-time occupation, or a significant part of your business, and get paid for it. The audience offers you the gift of their time – sometimes tempered with a sneak peek at a mobile phone, sure, but still they’re in their seats, ready to listen, for the most part. An entire team of people, from the A/V folks to the meeting planners to the PR people to the venue staff to the travel industry – and many others besides – have all conspired to get you precisely to the moment when you’re standing just off stage, ready to begin, with butterflies and excitement your only companions at that moment.
And all the teachers, experts, mentors, and fellow travelers in your field of expertise have helped you develop your thought and speech so that people believe that it’s worthy of attention.
All of that takes more than a village; it’s a civilization.
So, if you’re a speaker, take a moment or two today to show your gratitude. Here are a few ways to think about your gratefulness to get you started.
1.Give out credit freely. It doesn’t cost you anything much to thank everyone who helped you get to the stage for your hour of thought leadership, so be generous with the credit. Thank people, help people you meet along the way, become a mentor yourself, pay it forward.
2.Say your thanks like you mean them. Don’t fall into the trap of perfunctorily thanking the A/V people while mentally rehearsing your speech. Take a few moments with them, and with everyone else you thank, to connect with them and make your appreciation heartfelt. The difference is largely conveyed in body language, so make sure yours is authentic.
3.Maybe even write a letter. In this virtual era, of email, texts and their even more digital derivatives, a handwritten letter shows real attention and caring and is a very pleasant surprise for the person who receives it. So you could shoot off a quick email to the meeting planner who pulled everything together to make sure you were able to kill it on stage, but you can do better. Buy some nice, thick stationery, a good pen, and make it seem special.
4.Keep track of the things you’re grateful for. I’ve started doing the “3 reasons to be grateful” exercise every day. It’s surprisingly effective. I want to thank the person who thought up the idea – it’s been around for a surprisingly long time. A quick bit of Internet research didn’t find the inventor, though Martin Seligman certainly helped spread the word and the understanding of happiness in general, so I’ll thank him.
5.And most of all, thank the audience. Without the audience, you don’t have a speech, so never forget to thank them. Don’t start your speech with thanks; rather, put them somewhere in the middle of your talk. In that way, they’ll have more impact. Everyone says, “thank you” at the end of a speech, but that’s just to let the audience know that you’re done. So, for your real, effusive, heartfelt thanks, put them somewhere the audience will remember them.