Don’t i have to start off my speech by thanking people? Don’t i have to thank the organizer and the person who introduced me? I get this question numerous times and the answer is a resounding no. you do not have to start off by thanking a load of people.
It is not the end of the world if you do but the problem is that everybody is expecting that. It is not interesting to anyone in the audience besides the person you are thanking. So what you are essentially doing is letting the listeners know that they can pull their phones out and check their emails.
This does not go to say that you should not be gracious and forgo thanking people altogether. It is a matter of where and when you thank them. Instead of thanking them in the beginning, thank them in the middle of your presentation or near the end. Do it in a way so it sounds genuine instead of perfunctory. Thank them about a specific thing that they have done.
Doing so you will see more gracious and the beginning of your speech will sound much better and well structured as well.