This morning I attended a business event that featured a local speaker who told several effective stories and had the ability to inspire the crowd. So I wondered…why did he start and end by saying “thank you“?
Unfortunately, too often this phrase (thank you) has become the default for many speakers. Many of us believe it must be said to convey politeness or that it’s appropriate conduct to express gratitude before delivering any remarks. Consider this–while others typically appreciate being thanked, it’s certainly permissible to do this privately. (In fact it may be taken as a more sincere gesture if said one-on-one.)
Going back to this morning, the speaker really had 3 parts to his presentation: the opening, core message and the closing. Often when coaching my clients I use the analogy of a sandwich and explain that the slice of bread on the top and bottom of the sandwich represent the opening and closing. It often helps to create a visual of this important aspect of speaking.
Since each of those slices of bread is vitally important to the sandwich, they deserve a robust start and finish, to help support the core message (or filling in the sandwich, if you will). Therefore, although the speaker I heard had a salient message and relevant stories, he could have created even greater impact by opening with one of his anecdotes, asking a thought-provoking or rhetorical question or requesting the audience to take an action (e.g. stand up, close your eyes, shake the hand of the person on your left).
It comes down to this…if you have the privilege of speaking to a group of people, why be predictable when you can be creative and memorable? Start by cutting “thank you” and your audience will be thankful you did!