The first words out of your mouth and how you say them are a speech’s most important part. Your opening has to arouse your audience’s interest, stake out your position, and preview your main points.
There are many ways to begin a presentation. (See How to Start a Speech.)
But how you end your speech is equally important. The conclusion of your speech or presentation is what people will remember. A weak ending to a speech is like a limp handshake: it leaves people with a bad impression.
Give your speech’s conclusion the same kind of thought you give your introduction. You might even want to write it out and memorize it.
How to End a Speech
1. When It’s Time to End, End.
Never introduce new material in your conclusion. Review your main points. Add reasons to act on what you’ve said. And sit down.
2. Bring It Full Circle.
Use a variation of the attention-getting technique you used in your introduction. If you told a story at the beginning, finish with a contrasting one. If you asked a rhetorical question, answer it. If you cited a shocking statistic about a problem, close with a more surprising one about your solution. If you pounded the podium with your shoe, put it back on. If you used a quote, close with a more powerful one.
3. Sound the Trumpets
A speech doesn’t simply convey information or ideas. It is a call to action. Tell your audience what you want them to do — how they can implement your material — in as few words as possible. Then inspire them to want to do it.
4. Appeal to the Emotions.
Winston Churchill, one of last century’s greatest orators, said that a strong ending appeals to people’s emotions — to their pride, hope, love, and, occasionally, fear. The best way to inspire people to take action (see “sound the trumpets”) is to touch them emotionally.
The time and effort you put into crafting a powerful closing — whichever strategy you choose — will pay off, since the last thing you say will create the biggest and most lasting impression in your audience’s hearts and minds..
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Also see Connecting With Your Audience.
For information about how Chris Witt can help you become a more powerful speaker, contact us.
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Transitions: The Most Important and Overlooked Parts of a Speech - Christopher Witt
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