Closing your speech with impact can open up the doors of opportunities because what you say last determines how your audience members feel once they walk out of the doors and go back to their lives. You can give a wonderful speech but if the ending is weak, your audience will walk away feeling like the speech wasn’t very strong. So here are 4 tools you can use to strengthen your closing and henceforth your speech.
Before you close your speech, you should signal that you are closing. Tell the audience that the end is near. Be more creative than saying, “In conclusion” or “In summary” or something to that effect.
I like to use picture words such as “Let’s wrap this message up” or “As we come to the end” or “I’ll leave you with this…” Whatever you do, let them know you are closing because here’s what will happen:
They’ll listen again!
That’s right. People have been trained to know that your closing means you are most likely going to reiterate your message and so their antennas go up and they often begin to take notes.
As you move into your closing, make sure you call back to each of the major points you made. For example, listen to this quick wrap-up of one of my new keynotes. Listen for the 3 Ls (my main points) as well as how I let them know the speech is coming to a close.[audio:https://craigvalentine.com/wp-content/uploads/Signal.mp3|titles=Signal]
Important Point: You can either call back first or signal first depending on what makes better sense for the flow of your speech. In this case, you heard me call back first and then signal that I’m closing.
You just heard me call back to my main points. However, there is also another very important way to review your message. Have them say it! I blogged about this before, so click this link for details on how to get your audience to say your message.
Questions and Answers (Q & A)
You have probably heard me say, “Never end with the Q & A.” Why? It’s because people remember best what they hear first and what they hear last. Your message needs to be the absolute last thing in their ears. Therefore, it’s okay to have a Q & A, but just don’t end with it. Have it about 90% of the way through your speech. Listen to this quick audio of what happened to me when I didn’t heed this advice and I closed with the Q & A.
Finally, once you’ve signaled that you’re closing, called back to your major points, and held a Q & A if appropriate, it’s time to move into your lasting anchor, which will most likely be a story. However, just like you should have be doing throughout your entire speech as you transition from one point to the next, it’s extremely important to tease them before you tell them.
They’re probably wondering, “I already have got the message so why should I listen to this last piece?”
Your answer is the tease. Tease them to let them know what’s in it for them to stick around mentally for this last piece. Listen to how I tease and then go into my final story. This is for my 4 Rs to Remarkable Results In Leadership message.
Once you tease them before you tell them, go ahead and give them a powerful closing story that provides them with hope and proof that your message will work for them. In doing so, you will close your speech in a way that opens doors for more engagements.
Giving a speech involves encouraging the audience to be active listeners and participants. This can be tricky, especially when you are nervous and just want to be done presenting. Below are a few tips and tricks to make this connection a little easier.
Getting the audience’s attention
Getting and keeping the audience’s attention during a speech or presentation can be a challenge. By keeping a few things in mind, you can get the audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
Relevance, novelty, or importance of the topic and claims being presented
Types of support
Individuals learn or take in information differently (e.g. visually, auditory, physically, or verbally); varying the way in which you support your argument may help you reach more of the audience.
Facts and statistics are commonly used, however they can be hard for the audience to relate to
A goal of a speech is to provide the audience with the information necessary to understand the topic you have chosen. You need to help them comprehend and relate to this information.
Limit the amount of new information
Clear organization of information will allow for the audience to follow the speech as you lead them through your topic. Using a visual aid like PowerPoint can be an effective tool to keep the audience following along.
Use signposts—a few words to help the audience know where the speaker is during the speech. Signposts help the audience follow the road map that was given in the introduction.
Audience retention is getting the audience to retain/remember the information you have just presented.
Beebe, S. A., & Beebe, S. J. (2012). A concise public speaking handbook, 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Lucas, S. (2012). The art of public speaking, 11th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Sprague, J. & Stuart, D. (2013). The speaker's compact handbook, 4th ed. Portland: Ringgold, Inc.
Vrooman, S. S. (2013). The zombie guide to public speaking: Why most presentations fail, and what you can do to avoid joining the horde. Place of publication not identified: CreateSpace