A Vote Of Thanks - The Do's And Do Nots

By: Vincent Stevenson

Time should be taken to mentally prepare the structure of the vote of thanks speech. Be aware that the vote of thanks is not an evaluation and nor is it another speech in its own right, nor should it repeat the chairman's introduction. Yes, a lot to think about, but all will become clear.

The initial statement (which can be mapped out!) might be of the following nature: "Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen! On behalf of Norwich Orators, I am very happy to thank Fred for giving his speech on 'Promotion in the Mexican Navy' to us this evening... and the concluding sentence might be along the following lines: "So, Mr Chairman, I say, once again, that we are all most grateful to Fred and I now ask the audience to express appreciation in the usual way.' [Please note that they will be applauding the speaker (Fred) and not the proposer of the Vote of Thanks.]

With experience, the opening and closing formula may be modified, always provided that the principles that they embody are not forsaken. The person prosing the vote of thanks must listen attentively to the speech. The proposer should pick out two or three points that s/he and/or the audience found particularly interesting and, in the vote of thanks, refer and respond to these. Try not to repeat parts of the speech or enter into any kind of debate as to whether you agree or disagree with the speaker.

With practice, how to select some useful or illuminating points, and how to incorporate references to them in the vote of thanks, becomes easier and, with time, the proposer will produce a presentation that resembles an excellent dessert following - and in happy harmony with - a fine main course.

For the moment, consider these extracts from a hypothetical vote of thanks to Fred and decide which (if any) you consider suitable in the light of the above discussion.

'The sinking of the destroyer Napolean reminded me of an incident during the battle of Jutland. My father was a lookout on MNS Holiday in the Baltic fleet. It was a dark and stormy night...

I was impressed particularly by the story of able seaman Chavez who was twice passed over for promotion because of his dreadful bad breath.

Thomas often speaks so quickly that I cannot always absorb the complex point that he is making.

I have to say that I disagree with him fundamentally regarding the role of Mexico in the American Civil War.

I have to say that, along with everyone else present, I was completely enrapt by his consideration of the role of Mexico in the American Civil War.

Fred's tale of Ensign Gonzales and the attempted mutiny on board MNS Arrogant reminded us all, I sense, of Shakespeare's reference to 'vaulting ambition which overleaps itself.'

Copyright (c) 2007 The College Of Public Speaking

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