Many speakers seem to have an irresistible impulse to thank their audiences. They start out with something like this: “Thank you for being here today, and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules because I know your time is valuable. Thank you for your warm hospitality, and in particular let me thank my good friend blah, blah, blah…” (We know what you’re thinking…”they’re talking about ME again!”)

Opening with a big round of “thank you”s is an ineffective way to start a presentation. This is not a time to gush, to suck up to an audience member, or to try to impress with how many people you know personally. The first moments of a presentation represent valuable real estate, and must be both powerful and memorable. Don’t waste them by trying to be polite.

That’s why we call our preferred opening strategy a POW! statement, because good speakers will grab their audiences’ attention right off the bat. POW! statements intrigue, surprise, and amaze. You just can’t do that with a “thank you.”

Similarly, the end of a presentation is the time to reinforce your idea, drive home your main point, and make your final impression. The summary is a vital part of every speech. No need to waste that time by thanking anyone again. (And for what? For staying awake? For the standing ovation you hope they’ll give you?)

It’s OK to briefly thank an audience, event organizers, or the person who introduced you, but make it very short. The best way to thank your listeners is by arriving early, mingling with members of the audience and telling people personally how much you appreciate being there. These one-on-one shows of appreciation are much more authentic and memorable.

Are you trying to decide how to end your presentation without defaulting to “thank you”? Try something like this the next time you present:

  • Have a great day and enjoy the conference.
  • Don’t forget to tip your waitress!
  • Call us-operators are standing by!
  • Let’s make it a great year!