I love easy questions.
The real question, though, is how should you thank your audience?
First, the two times you should avoid thanking them: the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds of your presentation.
Why not start that way? Because that first 30 seconds is when you need to make that connection. My post Ace your Opening has some specifics on how to handle that portion, so I won’t re-post that here. The point is that open your speech with pleasantries, including variations of “thanks for having me” get you off to a weak start.
Okay, but why not wrap up with “Thank You”? I know…you’ve seen famous people do it, so it must be okay, right? Wrong. Those last 30 seconds (or even few minutes) are the last thing your audience will remember. Make it powerful. Make it memorable. Make it something you would listen to.
Now that you know how not to do it, what about the right way to do it? Glad you asked. You’re probably thinking that any type of thank you placed in the dead center of your speech will be…well…dead, or at least out of place, right? That’s true. the two times to thank your hosts and/or audience are soon after your opening, or…you guessed it. right before your closing.
“Before I close, I’d like to thank Rotary 123 for asking me to speak today…<clap…clap…clap>…the importance of good dental hygiene can’t be overstated…” into your closing. No I don’t speak about flossing techniques. I just drew a blank there and that’s what came into my head. The point is to treat a “thank you” like you would Q&A: wrap it up before you give your closing statement.
If you open your speech with power and close it with conviction, you’ll have time to express gratitude with grace.