What You Say When You Write A Letter Of Thanks And Appreciation By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
I have been asked to provide a sample letter of thanks and appreciation. Rather than create one out of whole cloth, I went though my own file of letters that I’ve received through the years. I wanted to find a couple of of letters that could serve a template when you write a letter of thanks.
By way of background, whenever professional speakers and entertainers do programs, they hope to get a kind word afterward from meeting planners and executives. Many of those notes, emails, voice messages, and letters are fairly perfunctory. But a message of appreciation will arrive that makes the heart pump just a little faster. Below are two such letters.
“We thank you for your unbelievable performances – both as Abe Lincoln during our welcoming dinner and then again when you delivered the keynote address to the delegates the following morning.
It is not often–particularly within our group–that I hear nothing but positive comments about a speaker or program. “Abe Lincoln made my whole convention experience worthwhile!”
“Gene Griessman has a powerful message and I felt both energized and motivated.” These were just a few of the comments I have received. You truly were the highlight of our 25th annual convention, and you made it both memorable and fun!”
–Edna Sendish Peters, Executive Director, International Beverage Dispensing Equipment Association
“The rave reviews are still coming in from our managers about your Lincoln presentation.
As you know, all our senior managers in the region attended the conference. Also we had our national management team from Washington, D.C. The only thing they have in common is they are not easily impressed….Your “Lincoln” evoked universal praise with many commenting that they would love to have you again next year. I was particularly impressed with my meeting with you before the conference. You asked what themes or impressions I would like conveyed to my management team.
You drew upon your expansive knowledge of Lincoln to artfully convey these themes and impressions….You have melded your knowledge of management principles with a superb acting ability and in so doing you captivate the hearts and imaginations of all who are privileged to see you. You were Lincoln, and we listened to you with no less awe and reverence. Bravo!”
–Henry G. Watkins, Chief Judge, Southern Region, Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration
Based on those letters of appreciation, here is some letter-writing advice when you have the opportunity to write such a letter. In fact, let’s use the above letters as a kind of template for your letter of thanks and appreciation.
Avoid clichés. Don’t begin your letter with a mundane and boring beginning, such as “This letter is written to thank you for the presentation you made in…”
Begin strongly. Forget about formal preliminaries. Get to the point right away. Write as though you’ve just walked into the room and you are announcing good news to the recipient of your letter. Just begin talking. “The rave reviews are still coming in….We thank you for two unbelievable performances.”
Be natural. Just listen to the cadence of these letters. It sounds like these people are talking to me.
Use superlatives. It will mean very little to the recipient of your letter if you say something like, “We liked your presentation very much” or “We appreciate the good job you did for us.”
Words like those are better than nothing, but not much. Look at the letters above: “unbelievable,” “rave reviews,” “energized,” “motivated.”
I am not recommending false flattery. Just be enthusiastic. And if the person you are writing to did not do a good job, look for something to praise. Examples, “Everyone was very impressed by the tremendous energy that you brought to the presentation.” Or “We all loved your friendly demeanor and came away with total respect for the great effort that you put into your work.”
Provide examples and illustrations. In the letter above by Judge Watkins, notice that he singled out how impressed he was by our planning session.
Quote other people. Ms. Peters actually quotes what other people said. This gives the letter extra credibility.
Let yourself go. You can do so much with a thank-you note or letter, so give yourself permission to be creative. You just might bring joy to the recipient for years. These letters still do this for me every time I read them.
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Don’t get embarrassed using a spurious Lincoln quote. Every quotation in this book is authentic.
“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.
“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives
A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president, the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance.
You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.
Don’t leave yet. You’re in a goldmine. Check out the great power phrases and unusual quotations. You’re already here. Why rush off?