The speaker has done a great job! The audience loved his or her presentation! You look good for hiring this speaker! Is your job done? NO!
It is now time to consider a testimonial letter for the speaker. It is appropriate to acknowledge the effort the speaker put into planning and delivering a great speech. Although he or she may have made it look easy, no speech that impacted an audience on both an intellectual and emotional level came without hours of research, writing, preparation, and rehearsal. No matter how seasoned the speaker is, a testimonial letter is always appreciated.
Because composing a great letter can take time (a commodity in short supply), we have listed a few testimonial letter writing tips to make it easier. This 'formula' approach is a great format to follow to save you time, and give you a letter you will be proud of.
Your letter should be on your organization's letterhead, dated, and should have three distinct areas: an introduction, a body, and a close. Many people make this simple for themselves by dedicating a paragraph to each (this is a guideline only—more paragraphs are fine if it suits your writing style).
The introduction should be a overview statement of the facts—date, location, speech title, and a thank you or acknowledgement of how well the speaker did. Here are two examples:
- Thank you for an awesome presentation at our annual Management Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona on September 29, 2011—everyone in the audience is still singing your praises! Your keynote presentation, When a Ship Misses the Harbor, It's Rarely the Harbor's Fault, was timely and on target to help our management team better deal with the changes in our organization. The practical concepts and tools shared will be easy to remember and apply—not just professionally, but personally as well!
- "Thank You" just does not seem adequate enough to convey how we feel about the keynote presentation you gave to our employees at our meeting in Boston on August 6, 2011. Since delivering Grow With the Flow: Becoming a 'Quick-Change' Artist, I have had many employees comment on your incredible knowledge and your ability to motivate and inspire. It is really amazing to see the change in attitude in the individuals who attended.
The body of the letter is normally the area that takes the most time. However, we have found a very easy method to convey the information you want, without taking up much of your time. Simply take the top three things you heard people say about the speaker's presentation and format them into a paragraph or a series of bullet points. Here are two examples:
- Neil, you have proven yourself a man of rare insight, able to put across a powerful message in an captivating way. You have the unique ability to craft your message to be easily understood, while making it a fun, interesting, and memorable experience. It has been several days since our retreat, but I'm still hearing comments from some of the 300 attendees like, "You saved the best speaker for last—I really appreciated Neil's high-energy presentation at the end of the day." and "Neil was a fantastic presenter with knowledge, humor and enthusiasm—the time flew by!" and "Bring this guy back! I got more out of this session than all the others combined."
- I had no doubts that you would be fantastic on the subject, but I was not prepared for your enthusiasm and energy. You had the audience on the edge of their seats, laughing, nodding, and participating all of the way through. Here are a few of the comments that people made on the evaluations:
- "I rate Neil better than 'Excellent'. He was really terrific—Thank you!"
- "Neil is one of the best speakers that I have ever seen—and I have seen some of the best!"
- "The keynote speaker was outstanding and right on the money! I was personally glad I was able to attend, it was a terrific message."
The closing paragraph summarizes your feelings about the speaker's presentation and ends the letter. If there are future opportunities to utilize the speaker, this is also a great place to 'plant that seed'. Here are two examples:
- It was such a great pleasure working with you and your support team. Thank you for all of your efforts in making this event a huge success. Based on the comments of the attendees, we will certainly be contacting you about next year's conference.
- Neil, on behalf of the Programs Committee, I appreciate the valuable contribution you have made in making our conference a success. Once again, the knowledge, information, and enthusiasm you shared really had an impact on our employees—you left them begging for more.
A final thought . . .
Many times testimonial letters are retained (and occasionally framed and displayed in an office). For that reason, it would be best if the letter was not folded into an envelope, but instead sent flat in a larger envelope. Also, an electronic version (e.g., pdf) with a scanned signature is not as nice as the real thing, so take the extra few minutes to sign an original copy and send it directly to the person—he or she deserves it!