Congratulations: How To Accept Praise

When you are done speaker, you still have a job to do
When you are done speaker, you still have a job to do
Image Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

I’d like to think that every time we give a speech, we do a good job. Once we are done, we know that we’ve done a good job and delivered the importance of public speaking based on the crowd’s reaction to our speech. The audience welcomed you warmly, listened attentively, laughed in all the right places and at all the right things, and highlighted their approval with loud, sustained and enthusiastic applause. Finally – you are done and now you can go home. Hold on, not so fast. It turns out that your job is not over and in some cases may just now be beginning. How should a speaker go about accepting praise from their audience?

The Next Steps After Your Speech Is Done

After a successful presentation, people will want to meet you, shake your hand and have a picture taken with you. If you are lucky they may ask for your autograph. In some cases some people will simply want to tell you how much they appreciated your talk. What you need to realize is that you may have stepped down from the podium, but the bright, white spotlight is still focused on you.

A key part of your job as a speaker is greeting and acknowledging these people. You can think of it as giving a kind of post-speech “performance.” During your speech you were personable, considerate and dignified. What this means is that people will expect to meet and chat with the same person they listened to and applauded. As a speaker you must now be appealing as a conversationalist. If you screw this up you can nullify a spectacular presentation.

Extending your positive presentation qualities into the after-show interaction is simply good public relations and savvy business for any speaker. Many of the people you speak with either decide, or help decide, if and when you will be brought back for a repeat speaking performance. They may also be instrumental in recommending you to other groups to speak. It’s to your benefit to keep them as enchanted with your off-stage self as they were with your speaking abilities. One of the secrets of maintaining your charm is in knowing how to accept praise graciously.

How To Accept Praise

The first thing that you need to understand is that if people tell you that your speech was brilliant, always agree with them. That may sound a little self-indulgent and egotistical, but trust me – it isn’t. It might seem to be boastful to elaborate on their compliments, but it’s not if you sincerely and humbly accept them. In some cases speakers might feel it is more modest to disagree and may say, “Oh no, I thought my talk could have been much better,” “I really didn’t feel I gave it my best this evening” or “I felt there were many moments when I could have been sharper.” In a sense, it borders on rudeness to contradict the praise.

These audience members are sincerely telling you that in their opinion your speech was superb. You might appear arrogant telling them that you think that they were wrong. Allow them their point of view and accept it. Keep your acceptance short, simple and dignified. An important point for speaker to remember is that you can never go wrong with ‘thank you.’ It is possible for you to add other phrases so that your response doesn’t appear repetitious or insincere. “It’s very nice of you to say that.” “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” “Thank you for being here.” Anything that helps you accept the praise courteously and sincerely serves your purpose. Notice, though such phrases are all variations on the simple “thank you.”

Make sure that you make eye contact with each person and listen to what they say to you. Be sure to respond to that one person before you move on to someone else. It can be insulting to speak with one person while you’re glancing around the room for someone more important to talk to. If you take a moment to appreciate each person who compliments you, that person will feel appreciated back. Make each individual feel important, and it will make you look important in their eyes. It is certainly gratifying when we give an outstanding performance. It’s thrilling to feel that outpouring of admiration from your grateful audience. Return that warm feeling with being gracious during your “post-show” performance.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we practice long and hard in order to do a good job of delivering a speech. If we are successful, and our audience likes what we have just done, our audience is going to want to interact with us after our speech. What we need to realize as speakers is that this post-speech interaction is just as important in delivering the benefits of public speaking as the speech that we just gave. Knowing how to do this correctly is an important part of being a speaker.

As speakers we need to understand the importance of meeting with our audience after our speech. They may want to shake our hands or talk with us. Think of this as being a post-speech performance. Your audience wants to interact with the person that they just saw on the stage. Remember that your audience may be filled with important people that can get you future speaking opportunities. If people tell you how wonderful your speech was, you need to be willing to agree with them. Don’t contradict them. Keep eye contact with the person that you are talking with and make them feel appreciated.

When we get done giving a speech, it is very common for us to feel as though we have accomplished what we can to do and that we are now done. However, it turns out that our job is not yet complete. Instead, we are just starting the next phase of what we need to do. This is when we interact with our audience and allow them to tell us what a good job we did. This is important to them and so we need to make it important to us. If we can get good at accepting praise, then perhaps we will find ourselves in situations where we get more of it.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that you should talk with each person after you get done giving your speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If there is one thing that we would all like to make happen, it’s getting our audience to go along with us. Whatever that really means. I think that we can agree that stand-up comedians know how to do this. If you’ve ever seen a comedian having a good night, you know that the words just seem to flow from their mouth and each time that they say something their audience laughs more and more. There is a real connection there. We’d like to have that same connection so that we can share the importance of public speaking. Perhaps working some stand-up comedy techniques into our next speech would allow us to connect with our audience better.