I recently engaged in an on-line discussion group for professional speakers in which someone asked if it was appropriate for speakers to thank the audience. While my response was aimed at my fellow speakers, some of the points have value for routine workplace presenters as well.
There are very few rules for professional speakers. One I’ve lived by for over 25 years is to always operate with uncommon courtesy. That suggests saying ‘Thank You’ when you get a gift. And an old Sicilian proverb warns that you should never insult the gift giver by refusing it or devaluing it.
That said, the event organizer gave us a gift by inviting us to speak, whether for fee or for free. Then, the audience gave us another gift when they showed up and stuck around. And, if we met their expectations, they gave us yet another gift with their reactions, participation and applause.
So, I always briefly thank them for the invitation during my intro and for their enthusiastic participation during my summary. Works for me. Works for them. Works for my Sicilian traditions.