Your Thanksgiving Speech:
- What do you say?

The thanksgiving speech: are you giving the thanksgiving address on behalf of your family, organisation or company?

What will you put in?
What will you leave out?
How will your structure it?

Use the thanksgiving speech template and guidelines below to prepare it.

Let's begin with thanksgiving themes

Your speech will be stronger and more effective based one principal idea rather than a pick and mix assortment.
Choose from the selection below.

The traditional themes are:

  • gratitude or thanks for all that is good, wholesome and sustaining in our lives - food, love, family, friends, the country we live in, the air we breathe, the parks we play in, our work, freedom of speech, an education ...
  • recognition of community - our inter-dependencies - that we are part of a web of existence larger than our individual selves, families or extended families.
    This could include Everything: moving from our immediate environment out to the world and beyond as beautifully exemplified in this poetic Iroquois Thanksgiving Address
  • respect for the inevitable cycle of life
  • honor due to those who give or serve in order that we may continue to live
  • acknowledgement of difficult times: losses, trials or challenges that must be faced to move forward
  • resolution and hope

In making your decision around theme also consider:

1. Who your speech is for

What do the people listening to you expect to hear?
Is is lighthearted stories and recollections or something more solemn and formal?
Identifying the audience's needs and expectations will help you choose the theme and then subsequently, how you treat it.

2. The purpose of your speech

Are you aiming to inspire people? Do you wish to unite them?
Maybe you want them to laugh and relax. Perhaps it is a combination of all three intentions.
Knowing the main purpose behind your speech will also help guide your choice of theme, tone and content.

3. The style of the occasion

Is it formal or informal?
Will the speech be delivered in an intimate setting like a family dining room or will it be in hall and delivered from behind a lecturn?


Once you've decided on your thanksgiving speech theme you're ready to:

Plan the outline of the speech

Downloadable Speech Outline

Grab a printable fill-in-the-blanks speech outline form.
It will help keep you on track, reducing the overall time it takes to prepare your thanksgiving address.

Begin with the body of the speech.
You will add the opening and conclusion later.

Based on your chosen theme note down 3 main points.
Start with the most important first. For each point you make give one or two examples to illustrate it. When you give your speech you'll link the points with transitions.

(If you need more explanation of transitions you'll find it here on this page: how to write a speech.)

  • Point One: Main idea - Example, example
  • Transition or link to...
  • Point Two: Idea - Example, example
  • Transition or link to...
  • Point Three: Idea - Example, example
  • Transition or link to the conclusion of your thanksgiving speech.

Now outline the conclusion of your thanksgiving address.

To end well, reinforce your theme, summarise your main points and finish with strong statement or maybe a quotation that will resonate on in the minds of your audience.

And lastly add the beginning of your speech. This segment:

  • Acknowledges and welcomes guests to the occasion. If you have guests of honor, name them.
  • Introduces the theme of your speech
  • Gives a broad overview of the main points
  • And links or transitions into the body of the speech - your most important and first point

Tips for Delivering your Thanksgiving Speech

  1. Write your outline on numbered and labeled (Introduction, Body, Conclusion) cards.
    (See this page for how to make and use cue cards effectively.)
  2. Time the delivery of your speech to fit harmoniously into the occasion's program. Is it best given before or after the dinner? Do time it for length to make sure you're within the alotted time.
  3. Save the glass of wine to have after your speech rather than before it.
  4. Practice the speech before delivery to your audience and have a few trusted friends or family members listen to it. Get their feedback on content, tone and length (2-3 minutes is good!) Make any changes necessary.
  5. If you're nervous about giving your speech do look at this page on overcoming public speaking anxiety. You'll find many tried and trusted tips to tame the nerves.

Happy Thanksgiving!
May your speech flow easily and well.

"If you count all your assets, you always show a profit."
Robert Quillen

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