Knowing that you will be called upon to give a speech expressing gratitude calls for some planning before the occasion so that your speech will express exactly what you want to say. Whether the thank-you is for assistance of some kind or a material gift, it is important that the listeners understand both your appreciation of what they have done and the impact it will make.
How to Write a Gratitude Speech
Brainstorm a list of the ideas you want to include in the speech; then, if appropriate, consult others who wish to express their gratitude and jot down what they have to say. For example, if a corporation has made a donation to a nonprofit organization, the employees might each be able to tell you how the gift will impact what they do. If a service group has joined in your company’s efforts to clean up a derelict part of the city, residents of that area may want to tell you what the clean-up meant to them.
Write an introduction that clearly and specifically states what you are expressing gratitude for, and, if you are speaking on behalf of a group, why you are delivering the speech. If there is a monetary amount involved, you may have to make a decision about whether or not to say the exact amount or whether to simply use the term “generous gift.” During the opening of the speech give the name of the company or organization you are thanking and express gratitude to as many individuals within that group as possible. For example, if a company sponsored a dinner at a homeless shelter, single out those who did the shopping, those who cooked, and so on. If you are expressing gratitude for support of your organization over a period of years, mention specific individuals who have helped at various times.
Express your gratitude by talking specifically about the effects of the gift, support, or assistance. For example, you might say that because of a company’s generous gift, dozens of school children who had never been to a concert before attended a performance of the symphony; if possible, include some of the kids’ comments about their experiences. Members of an organization that spent a weekend sprucing up the interior of a senior center would be interested in knowing what impact their volunteer work had on both the staff and the clients.
Include slide shows or other graphics in your speech when possible. Photos of company employees engaging in volunteer work are fun for an organization to view. Charts showing clearly how funds that were donated will be apportioned can be effective. Drawings and snapshots of children who were given assistance are always popular. If the gratitude is for some kind of mentoring, short notes could be shown on a screen while the speaker reads them.
Consider concluding your speech with an appropriate quote that is meaningful to you; for example, you might use the scholar William Arthur Ward’s words: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Another possibility might be Canadian poet Henry Drummond's quote, “There is no happiness in having or in, but only in giving.” End with simple words of thanks expressed on behalf of your entire group.
- Public Speaking: 7 Steps To Writing And Delivering A Great Speech; Katherine Pebley O'Neal; 2005