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How to write a thank you speech

With example speeches and a printable planner

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-22-2022

A thank you speech or appreciation speech prepared and given with sincerity means a lot to those you acknowledge.

Dive right in. There's all the assistance you need on this page to write an excellent speech of thanks.

What you'll find on this page

Image:outline of a girl's face. 
Text: 'Thank you' repeated in different fonts at top of image. 'How to write a thank you speech' at the bottom.

'No man is an island'

When we achieve, we usually do so because others have helped. Your speech of appreciation is the gift or acknowledgment you give in return for what was given you.

When is a thank you speech appropriate?

Any time is good to say thank you! However a more formal speech of thanks could fit any of these occasions.

Thank you:

  • for coming to my graduation, farewell, birthday, or retirement party
  • for the promotion
  • for the award
  • for coming to our wedding and your gifts, our engagement party, our 50th wedding anniversary
  • for coming to the opening of my new business...

Be prepared! Best practice guidelines

Generally the decision to leap to your feet and give a thank you speech is not spontaneous. You will likely have some forewarning and time to consider exactly what you want to say and who you want to mention.

Deciding on the content

Cover these three content areas and you'll be fine.

  1. WHO are you thanking?
    Note their names in ranking order- the most important first
  2. WHAT are you thanking them for?
    Be specific rather than general. Naming what you are grateful for gives your thanks more meaning.
  3. WHAT did their gift of time, expertise, encouragement, money... mean to you?
    Be specific. This is your chance to publicly give credit where it's due, compliment or praise. Take it.

Writing your speech

When you've sorted out who you wish to mention and what for, you are ready to begin writing.

Like any other form of speech you need 3 parts:- an opening, the body or middle where you put all your acknowledgments, and a conclusion.

1. Introduction/opening

In your introduction or opening give the reason for the occasion and why it is you're going to thank everyone. What you say, and how you say it, will set the tone for the remainder of the speech.

Depending on the number of people on your 'thank you/appreciation' list and the amount of time you have, consider including a small story about the lead-up making this event possible. A well chosen personal anecdote will always go down well because it lets those listening share your experience more deeply.

Check out this page on story telling in speeches for more information.

2. Body

In the body of your speech, start at the top of your list of people to thank and work your way through it. Take care to give the most important people the most time.

For those whom you want to mention but don't have enough time to make individual acknowledgments consider grouping them according to function.

Example: "To Alex, Mary, Judy and Sam, thank you for making me remember to laugh. You helped me keep my sanity and perspective when the going was tough."

3. Conclusion

In the conclusion, summarize your main points and finish.

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Sample thank you speech for receiving an award 

Here's a sample thank you speech for you to see how it could be done. There are many ways covering the required content. This is one.

The person giving this speech is thanking an organization for giving him an award. 

It is 374 words long. When spoken it will take approximately 2 minutes + to deliver. That's about the right length. It's brief and covers everything needed.

As you read it through imagine hearing it out loud. 

Speech text

"Who's considered the incredible power of thank you?  Those two words express gratitude, humility, understanding, as well as acknowledgement.

I am here with you: my family, many of my friends and colleagues because I need to say all of that, and then some more.

Thank you for coming to share my being given the Fred Smith Award for Community Service. It's very humbling.

There's a phrase I'm sure everyone knows: it takes a village to raise a child. In this case it's not a child that's been raised but awareness and an award for a long needed community resource -  the Parksville Community Literacy Center.  The village behind it and me, is you.

In particular thank you to my wife Marlene who has always understood and shared my conviction that communities are healthiest when its resources are equally shared, and that the ability to read underpins long term social and economic well being.

I know the long hours I spent after work helping to establish our new Center tested her, especially when I was home late, again.

Remarkably she continues to support, and love me.  For that I will always be grateful.

Mary Hill, Catherine Beech and Matthew Fall from the Fred Smith Foundation – thank you for sharing the vision of an integrated community and for being so incredibly supportive. You understood what we were trying to achieve and helped make it possible. Your generous gifts of time, expertise and funds are deeply appreciated.

This award may have my name on it, but in truth it belongs to everybody who has worked to make the center a reality. Have you got a spare day or two? If I called out all those people we'd be here for quite some time! Instead, I'll simply say thank you. You know who you are.

The time and effort you've given ensures that the Parksville people who want it will have access to effective literacy programs and resources. That is a priceless gift.  As Nobel Peace Prize winner former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan said “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.”

Thank you for the award and thank you on behalf of all those who will cross that bridge to a brighter future." 

Here's another example. This one is a thank you speech for a birthday. The speaker is thanking his parents and guests for the celebration in honor of his 18th birthday. 

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Thanks but NO thanks!

What I really need is a Thanksgiving Speech!

Image: - a string of autumn leaves. Text: Thanksgiving - a time to say thanks for life, family, friends and food, in a speech.

And it's here.
Choose a theme. Complete the template.
And give your Thanksgiving Speech with confidence.


Get a printable thank you speech planner

Regardless of whether you are preparing a thank you speech for the guests who came to your wedding, engagement, retirement, farewell, graduation or birthday party, the steps are the same.

This printable planner will guide you through the four needed. Each one is fully explained with an example.

Completing it will make writing your speech so much easier.

Either click the link or the image below to: download a printable thank you speech planner.

Banner: Download a printable thank you speech planner

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Use a quotation to help show your gratitude

Image: blue forgetmenots. Text: Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. GB Stern

Before you finalize the content, check out these 'thank you quotations'.

They offer different ways of expressing your gratitude. You could find just what you need to spark your creativity and provide the thread/theme to unite your speech. It can be so much more than a long string of thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you ...


Tips to help you get your thank you speech right

Rehearsal, practice and feedback

Image: Black and white photo of a young man standing on a stage. Text: About rehearsing a speech.

Many people make the assumption that once they've got the words of their speech sorted, they're set to go.

That's not true! Practice completes the process.

Giving yourself several rehearsals, firstly by yourself and then in front of friends or family, will help enormously. Click the link for detailed information about how to rehearse effectively.

For the condensed and shortened version covering good rehearsal practice follow the points below.

1. Content check

Before investing too much time and energy into rehearsing your speech say it through in front of a few trusted friends or colleagues.  It is much, much easier to change text prior to practicing it than after you've begun working with it. Ask them to listen:

  • to make sure you've included everyone you should, in the right order and thanked them for the right things.
  • for tone. Does the vocabulary fit the occasion? Are the stories right? Is the speech positive? Is it inclusive?

Edit as needed, and then have your test audience listen again. 

2. Timing

Getting the timing right is an essential part of making it a success. Go on too long and people stop listening. Be too brief and there's a danger you've missed things out.

The only way to find out how long your speech is, is to time yourself as you say it out loud at a normal speaking rate.

If it's too long, look for areas you can cut. Maybe you need to group a few more people together or perhaps you need to shorten some of the specific examples about why it is you're thanking someone. 

If it's too short, add more detail.  Repeat until 
you get the length right.

3. Use cue cards

If you're at all worried about forgetting things, losing your place or muddling what you want to say, use cue cards. They'll take the anxiety away.

Write the main points of your thank you speech on cue cards. Good notes will keep you on track while ensuring you cover everything you want to like, for instance, the name of every person you want to thank and why.

(If you don't know about using or how to make cue cards find out here. Cue cards are preferable to reading your speech.)

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Graphic with text - Psst if writing a thank you speech is a struggle you could use The Speech Builder and have it done very quickly.

*About The Speech Builder - this is an app that "builds" personalized speeches. If you're needing a speech to say thank you for an award of any sort; academic, sporting, civic, or artistic,  the speech builder can help.

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Are you sweating over a business thank you speech?

One thanking your colleagues for a job well done?

Here's a good one to use as a template. It's utterly adaptable. Takes bits out, flick bits in... until you have it just as you want it.
Get thee pronto (quickly) to the business thank you speech!

Business thank you speech thumb
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