Can you nail a vote of thanks?
The vote of thanks...why can't you just get it right?
Recently I went to a function and...
The introduction was extremely well-delivered and presented the guest speaker as just the right person to deliver this particular speech.
The guest speaker held the audience’s attention like the expert speaker she is. Her ideas were refreshing. She was humorous and the audience could relate to her examples and analogies.
Then there was the vote of thanks. Since vote of thanks are usually bad, it was bang on the money. It was the worse I had heard for a long time!
It seems that the presenter was sitting in the audience, minding his business, when all of a sudden the organisers stuck a gun in his back and forced him to deliver the vote of thanks!
What’s with the vote of thanks, you guys?
Why is it the worse speech on the program 7 times out of 10?
And why is it often almost as long as the main speech?
Well, I know why its bad!
But as a trained Public Speaker and a Facilitator, I know how to do deliver a winning vote of thanks.
And if you hang around this post to the end, you too will know how to deliver one as well. Would you like that? I thought so…
But, what really is the vote of thanks?
First of all, it is usually a formal speech. It is delivered on behalf of an organisation or a business at the end of an event, to thank those who have organized and or participated in that event.
To avoid bringing down an otherwise great program and to make your guest speaker feel special, you just have to learn how to do it properly, as I mention in point #8 of this post.
What’s more, a winning vote of thanks can build your speaking credibility.
So…can I break it down for you?
First of all, it is a speech
This means, as I tell my participants in my presentation workshops or coaching, like all good speeches it will have an opening or introduction, a body or discussion part and a conclusion or ending.
It also means that the opening must be hot enough to capture the attention of the audience. To do this, you can use humour, a quotation, refer to the circumstance of the event or any of the myriad of effective ways to begin a speech.
According to Saint Ambrose, who lived many years ago: “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks” so allow me to get on with my duty of…
“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” Madam Chair, those words were attributed to John E. Southard and I use them now to “get even” by thanking a number of people who have helped us with this event…
The body or discussion part
Start by saying on whose behalf you are speaking
You are speaking on behalf of your organisation and on your own behalf. If you must leave out any part of this, leave out yourself.
Do sound spontaneous and genuine
Please! This requires you to ignore the wonderful advice I gave about how to practice your speech in this post. While I am providing you with a template for a great vote of thanks, most of the details will be filled in by you at the event.
Be brief, your speech should be no longer than 2 or 3 minutes
Yes, I am serious. Understand the mindset of your audience at this point in the program. They recognize that the vote of thanks signals the end of the event. And if the caterers are well-known for mouth-watering food, that’s where their minds will be. Not on another 7-minute speech.
Get the name of the person(s) you are thanking right
This should be obvious but just last week, a mistake like this took centre-stage at an event I attended.
At the last-minute, the person originally delivering the feature address could not attend. Since no one told the person moving the vote of thanks and since she was working primarily behind the scenes...you can guess what happened.
If the program is short
Thank all the speakers/performers individually. A word of caution: this does not include the choir.
If the program is long
Group the speakers/performers and thank each group. This includes the choir.
Thank relevant persons who are not on the program...But have contributed to the event
This is often hotly debated and for good reason.
Sometimes persons reach so far back to thank such persons that I am sure I will not be surprised if one day, someone thanks the mother of the Guest Speaker for giving birth to him or her.
Try to say something complimentary about the featured speech
This could be about the content and or the quality of speech. Try to mention one or two points you found particularly interesting. This is also the epitome of proper etiquette since it signals to the speaker you were listening.
If you can’t say anything complimentary about the featured speech...
Just thank the guest speaker for the time she or he took to prepare and deliver the speech. Lying about how great the speech was is not an option.
The Conclusion or Ending
Just like how your vote of thanks has a proper opening, you must bring it to a proper close. You may choose any of the many ways you can end a speech. But just remember these critical points about ending the vote of thanks:
It is not the time – to take the speaker to task for something he might have said that you did not agree with. Please!
It is not the opportunity – to put forward your own view on the subject that the speaker discussed. This is just plain rude.
It is the time – to bring your speech smartly to a close with a call for a round of applause from the audience for the people whom you have just thanked.
So there you have it! A template for you to follow to deliver a winning vote of thanks that can build your speaking credibility.
The next time you have to deliver a vote of thanks...
Remember that VOT on the programmes stands for Vote of Thanks! The first time I saw it, I did not realise what it stood for, and when I asked...even now as I tell you, I still want to go into a hole in the ground.
Also remember, even though a VOT (oops!) vote of thanks is essentially a short speech, if you can nail it , a winning vote of thanks can establish your speaking credibility!
But don’t stop there…
Learn how to deliver speeches like a pro…
My HandBook – “Fast and Easy Steps to Mastering Public Speaking” will show you how.
In this handbook I walk you through what to do before you even begin to write a speech, give you a method to organize a speech that can work for any speech, show you how to use body language effectively and share loads of other strategies for the beginner and the advanced speaker.
To your speaking success