To Whom It May Concern: Thank You

Taking the time to thank someone to show your appreciation can speak volumes about you, but leaving off a personal touch can lessen the impact of your sincerity. Learn how just a few short words can dramatically improve the expression of your gratitude.

When I received a printed note from a client after speaking at the company’s annual sales conference, I received a valuable lesson about the personal touch – or the lack thereof.

The note says: “Thank you for helping to make our Sales University a great success! Your participation made this year’s a valuable learning experience. We greatly appreciate your support and look forward to future collaborations. Warmest regards.” And it’s signed by the director of Sales Training & Development.

But the salutation -- the "Dear So-and-So" part of the note? Well, there was none.

On the one hand, the director appreciated that a thank you note would be a nice gesture, and indeed it was. On the other hand, if only he had taken the time to write “Dear [Name of Speaker]” in each note as he signed it, the note would have seemed more like a genuine note of appreciation than a task to be checked off his event checklist. Given only about a dozen speakers at the event, this personalizing would have taken mere seconds out of his busy schedule.

Over the years, I’ve received many post-event thank you notes with no greeting at all before the message -- or the impersonal greeting “Dear Speaker.” It’s like attending a wedding and afterwards receiving a printed message that says “Dear Guest.” Some of the thank you notes I’ve received have been email messages sent to a cc list – or worse, a bcc list. I could understand this in the case of a large number of recipients, but often, the number is in the single digits.

The thank you notes I’ve cherished are the ones that use my name in the greeting and mention something meant just for me – a reference to my presentation or something we discussed before the presentation or something else that represents a connection between us. These notes have taught me how good it feels to be directly and personally thanked and have given me a model that I try hard to follow.

User Comments

1 comment
Anonymous's picture

Cherished is a bit strong, but I agree with you wholeheartedly. People like to hear their name, otherwise it doesn't seem very sincere.

April 7, 2012 - 11:20am

About the author

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten

Naomi Karten is a highly experienced speaker and seminar leader who draws from her psychology and IT backgrounds to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, manage change, and strengthen teamwork. She has delivered seminars and keynotes to more than 100,000 people internationally. Naomi's newest books are Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change. Her other books and ebooks include Managing Expectations, Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, and How to Survive, Excel and Advance as an Introvert. Readers have described her newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, as lively, informative, and a breath of fresh air. She is a regular columnist for When not working, Naomi's passion is skiing deep powder. Contact her at or via her Web site,

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!