I recently responded to blog post about public speaking and the topic was on “should a speaker thank the audience”? The writer of the blog said absolutely not, that a speaker shouldn’t thank them before or after giving a speech. There were a couple of different responses to that. I personally thought that it would be rude and arrogant not to thank them.

I’ve since found out that that is a hotly debated topic amongst professional speakers. So I really gave it some thought and weighed out the pros and cons of each argument. My first thought was that, of course you thank your audience. But I guess it really depends on how. And each situation is different. Plus, do you thank them in the beginning or at the end or both?

I did go through Toastmasters when I first started, but apparently Toastmasters has a thing against thanking the audience. I must say, I don’t remember this ever being an issue and I’m pretty sure I did thank them with out getting “fined”.

I come from a theater background and I’ve never left a stage without thanking the audience. But this is done in a final curtain call, which most speakers don’t have. If you notice, comedians and singers always thank the audience. Why shouldn’t a speaker?

Of course there aren’t any rules for speakers that say you have to do anything. That’s the beauty of being a public speaker. You’re the writer, director, producer and star of your own productions. You can do anything you want, but the ultimate decision is with the audience. So, here’s my take on it.

Whoever you’re speaking to could have hired anyone to grace their stage. But they hired you. So I see that as an honor and a privilege. It’s even more of a privilege when you consider that a lot of speakers make more money in one hour than the average worker makes in a whole month. I’m always thankful when they pick me.

The audience could be anywhere, but they chose to listen to your speech. I get as much from the audience as they get from me. I always learn from them. For that I’m thankful.

I’m not saying you have to open by thanking them or even thanking the presenter, if that slows you down. But at least thank them at the end for showing up and participating. You can end with a dynamic ending and then just give a quick thank you as you leave. It won’t detract from your speech, but it will leave the audience with a good feeling about you.

And besides, it’s just good manners. But that’s how I was raised in the South. Well, that’s my two cents. What do you think?