How to make special speeches: moving a vote of thanks

Managers usually get asked to make more short speeches than long speeches. One short speech that you may be called on to give will be to move a vote of thanks at the end of a presentation. For such occasions, here are a few guidelines worth remembering...

1. Be prepared to be spontaneous.

A vote of thanks is usually not the kind of speech you can prepare beforehand - unless you have a copy of your guest’s talk in advance. So, as a rule, you’ll need to be spontaneous.

2. Structure your response.

Listen carefully to the talk, and select and jot down two or three key points. Build your vote of thanks around these selected points. You might say: 'Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen, our speaker tonight made two points which particularly appealed to me. First of all,… Secondly,… In conclusion, I found our speaker’s presentation to be informative, incisive, and entertaining, and so I am delighted to propose this vote of thanks. Please join with me in showing our appreciation…'

3. Remember these helpful suggestions...

  • Be gracious, sincere - and brief. It is not the responsibility of the thanker to make another long speech.
  • As a general rule, you should never voice your disagreement with the speaker, nor make corrections to the speech, nor use the occasion to push your views - no matter how much you might disagree with what was said.
  • Stand in a position that gives you eye-contact with the entire audience. Occasionally turn towards the speaker.
  • And if it’s been a woeful speech? Make as little reference to the content of the speech as possible: focus on the effort and preparation involved, thanking the speaker for making the time available in a busy schedule. Be courteous and brief.

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