Public Speaking A to Z: G is for Grateful

Kafui Dey

What has being grateful got to do with standing up and speaking in public? My response is one word – everything. From the time you are invited to give a talk to the end of your address, gratitude permeates the practice of public speaking. Here is how.

Be grateful for yourself

Gratitude starts with you. Be grateful for the fact that you are involved in the art and craft of public speaking. It is a skill that imbues you with confidence and equips you with the tools to design a talk and share it with a group of people.

Be grateful you were chosen

Should you be thankful that somebody invites you to speak to a group on a subject about which you know a great deal? Of course! Choosing a speaker to address an audience at a formal event is no small matter. The decision to settle on you means you have been adjudged as someone with deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

Be grateful early

Some speakers take advantage of the opening couple of minutes into the talk to thank key officials and organizers of the event for the opportunity to address the audience. Appreciation of others is an important lubricant of human interaction. Just make sure you look into the eyes of the people you are thanking and say the words like you mean them. You will make a deeper connection that way.

Be grateful for the pauses

If your speech is an interactive one, you may be interrupted often by members of the audience who may want some clarifications. You may even be heckled by an irate listener. First address these interruptions by thanking the persons concerned (“I’m so grateful you brought this up”) and then tackle the issues raised. In the case of a heckler, this approach may throw them off because they may have been expecting a confrontational stance from you.

Be grateful for your audience

When you end your talk, it is important that you show appreciation to the audience. They made time to attend the event to listen to you and it is only proper that you recognize this fact. A smooth way to do this is to link your statement of gratitude to the question and answer session that usually follows a talk. Look at the example below:

“It’s been a fantastic evening! Thank you very much for coming. [PAUSE for applause]. Before I take my seat, I’d be delighted to take a couple of questions on my talk from you.”

You can hardly go wrong with a tone of appreciativeness. Being grateful marks you as a person who is sensitive, polite and confident. These are characteristics that are all desirable in effective public speakers.

Be thankful for the opportunity to speak, whether to twenty, two hundred or two thousand people. To be invited to stand before a group of people and deliver an address means someone thought you had something worth listening to. Show your gratitude by deciding to give your best!

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