There are many ways to show someone that you appreciate them. You can buy them a gift. You can write them a thank-you note. And in some cases, you can give a speech in their honor. There are plenty of occasions when you may find yourself in a position to give an appreciation speech.
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If you’re graduating from high school or college, you might give a speech thanking friends and family members for their support.
If you own a business, you might tell your employees “thank you for your support” as part of a speech. Speeches can also be a great way to say “I appreciate you” to the people in your life who support you.
Here, we break down the steps that go into crafting an excellent appreciation speech. We also include excerpts of speeches from an assortment of occasions and audiences to draw inspiration from.
Step 1: Know Your Audience — And Your Place
Your speech will depend on a variety of factors. But the most important ones to consider are the setting and the crowd. If your speech is a casual toast between friends over a bottle of wine, it will be a lot more casual.
You can rely on personal anecdotes and the language you use will be more personal. If you’re giving a formal speech in front of colleagues though, your tone will be very different. Your speech will be a lot more structured and concise.
Step 2: Create an Outline
Whether your appreciation speech is long or short, it’s always a good idea to craft an outline ahead of time. This will help you make sure you don’t forget to mention anything you want to cover. Overall, most speeches will break down like the following:
- Introduction: In an introduction, you will let the audience know who you are and give a preface of what you plan to say. For instance, if you’re recognizing a specific person in an appreciation speech, give a quick rundown of why they’re worthy of appreciation.
- Body: Here, you’ll flesh out the points you made in your introduction. You can give more specific examples of things the subject of your speech has done, and you’ll expand on why those actions deserve gratitude.
- Conclusion: In this final section, you can reiterate the points you made earlier in the speech.
Step 3: Grab People’s Attention with Gratitude
Start with a strong opening line. In a more formal speech, a quote about gratitude can be an excellent way to set the tone. In a more casual speech, you can avoid a quote. However, you should still stick with the theme of gratitude.
Step 4: Be Personal and Specific
In casual and formal speeches alike, you should feel free to be specific. If you’re giving a speech in honor of one person, you can list all of the things they do that deserve appreciation. If you’re thanking other people for their support, you can list the ways they helped you.
Personal anecdotes are a lot more engaging for listeners. They will also help you feel more connected to your material. The more connected you feel, the more confident you’ll be in speaking. These personal anecdotes can be funny, poignant, or a blend of the two. Again, this will largely be dictated by your audience and the setting of your speech.
Step 5: Practice Makes Perfect
For a casual speech like an appreciation toast, you can probably get away with speaking off the cuff. But any kind of pre-planned appreciation speech definitely benefits from repeated practice.
The more comfortable you are with the speech, the easier it will be for you to deliver it. If you don’t know your speech inside and out, there’s a good chance that you can be tripped up by certain words or turns of phrase.
Step 6: Time Yourself
When you’re practicing your speech, you should also be timing yourself. This means you should have a stopwatch going while you read your speech aloud. Speeches can be deceptive.
A few pages don’t seem like they should take that long to read. If you only read them over in your head, that can reinforce the notion that your speech isn’t that long. But it takes a lot longer to read something aloud than it does reading it to yourself.
If you don’t practice it out loud ahead of time, you may panic in the middle of your actual delivery. If you fear your speech is taking too long, you might start to read faster and faster, which could make the speech incomprehensible. Practicing it out loud can help you hit your ideal time target without having to rush.
Step 7: Keep Your Notes Handy
Even if you’ve practiced your speech until it’s practically etched into your brain, you always want to keep notes or an outline with you. No matter how much you practice, you may find yourself freezing up in the moment. If you don’t have notes handy, you might flounder. On the other hand though, you also shouldn’t keep your whole speech with you.
If you do, you might find yourself relying on it like a security blanket. You may end up just reading the whole speech straight from the paper without engaging with your audience at all. Both ends of the spectrum are too extreme, so it’s best to find a happy medium. Some people just keep their outline with them.
Other people write out the first sentence of each paragraph to jog their memory and help them orient themselves. As you practice, you’ll find the method that works best for you.
Step 8: Do a Test Run in Front of an Audience
Practicing for a speech on your own is important. But once you feel more comfortable with the speech, you should practice in front of someone. Ideally, you’ll rehearse it in front of people several times until you can keep your nervous responses in check.
This means delivering the speech without your heart racing and your speech speeding up to match.
Step 9: Weed Out Any Trouble Spots
Every time you practice your speech, you should be refining it until you can’t improve it any further. One of the big things you should be looking out for is your usage of filler words or speech disfluencies.
Speech disfluencies encompass those little noises like “um”, “er”, and “uh” that we tend to use when we aren’t confident. These can make people tune out because your discomfort makes them feel awkward in turn.
As you practice, pay attention to places where you’re inserting those disfluencies. Keep practicing them until you become comfortable enough to leave them out. Or, rewrite those sections so they come to you more naturally.
Step 10: End On a Good Note
Above all else, remember that this speech is intended to be a positive thing. An appreciation speech should make someone’s day.
Remember to end the speech by reaffirming specifically why you are showing appreciation.
Sample Appreciation Speeches
Now that we’ve gone into what makes a good appreciation speech, let’s see some examples. These are just excerpts from longer speeches, but they may help demonstrate the sort of content you might be looking for.
Example of appreciation speech for graduation
“As I look around at all my classmates, I realize how much I appreciate you all. Many of us have relied on each other to make it through school and to our graduation day. We supported each other during tough times. We used each other’s examples to fuel us towards getting better grades. When someone was in danger of not graduating, we pulled together to get everyone to the finish line. We all owe a lot to our families for their support. But we should also be sure to appreciate ourselves.”
Example of appreciation speech for friends
“I’d like to take a moment to raise a glass in appreciation for Bethany. Everyone here has one thing in common — Bethany’s friendship. She has always had an uncanny knack for finding people in need of a community and bringing us together. From there, we’ve been able to find the other things that connect us. But if it weren’t for Bethany, most of us would have missed out on enriching, life-changing friendships. Bethany — here’s to you!”
Example of appreciation speech for employees or a boss
“As the year draws to an end, I’m proud to announce that it’s the company’s strongest year yet. We have grown by leaps and bounds and still managed to maintain profitability. Our client satisfaction scores have never been higher. And each and every one of you has played a role in our success.
"I want to thank our sales division for going above and beyond in meeting our clients’ needs. I want to thank our marketing department for creating materials that are very transparent about our mission. I want to thank the managers for leading their divisions by example. I could stand up here and tell you a half dozen things I appreciate about every person in this room, but I’m sure you’re all ready to hit the buffet line. So I’ll conclude by saying that I appreciate all of your contributions, and am so proud to be on a team with each and every one of you.”
Example of appreciation speech for mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa
“Hello everyone! I’d like to thank all of you for coming here today in celebration of Grandma Joy and Grandpa Bill’s 50th wedding anniversary. As most of you know, I’ve never had a relationship last more than a year. Fifty years is an absolutely mind-boggling level of commitment to someone like me.
"There are so many reasons to love and appreciate Joy and Bill. There’s all the basic grandparent stuff. Joy taught me how to make amazing cookies and Bill taught me how to change a tire. But they also took me in when my home life was less than ideal. And when they realized some of my friends also had difficult lives at home, they opened up their den as a safe space. On any given day, you could find at least two or three misfit teenagers sleeping on their fold-out couch.
"Grandma and Grandpa, I’ll never be able to let you know how much I appreciate you. I know you probably don’t think you even did anything special. But you have made so many lives worth living thanks to your compassion and generosity. Thank you for always being there for others, just like you’ve been there for each other for five decades.”
Show People You Appreciate Them Through Meaningful Speeches
There are many ways to show gratitude. An appreciation speech is just one of them. Whether you’re giving a short toast or a lengthy speech, you can communicate your gratitude for someone.
These steps and examples should help you craft an excellent speech. Ultimately though, just remember to be sincere and personal. That’s the real key to successfully showing appreciation.