Speakers often worry about how to begin their speech. With a joke? A poignant story? A motivational idea? Thinking about how to end your speech is just as important and often overlooked. It is frequently left to an abrupt “um…thank you” following an awkward pause.
Why spend time planning an ending?
The first impression your audience has of you is what keeps them focused on your message during your speech. But how will they remember you? Will they remember you? Over time, many people will recall less than ten percent of what they hear. The more engaging you make your wrap-up, the more they will remember down the road. Ending with a call-to-action can greatly increase the long term impact of your words.
How to Wrap Things Up?
Circle the Wagons: Bring your speech back to where you began. A classic method of speech construction is to tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. Repetition is great for memory.
Last Things First: Writing the end of a speech first is an effective tactic. Think about what you want the audience to take away from your presentation. It’s also a good way to tie it in to the opening. Writing the ending first ensures that your speech concludes with your freshest thoughts. An important thing to remember when preparing your ending remarks is to:
Write them word for word: Treat the ending just as you do the rest of your speech. Know what you plan to say, what words and phrases you want to emphasize, and how you want your audience to feel when your presentation is over. The end is just as important as the rest of your speech and planning for it properly will keep it from sounding weak.
Inspiring quote: Can’t think of a good way to end your speech? Use a quote from another person. There are lots of great online quotation resources, including this one from Forbes.
Wrapping Up the Wrap Up
The end of your speech is too important to leave to chance. Know what you will say and what you want your audience to hear from you before you walk away or take you seat.
Try this: Take the last speech you gave that you thought could have ended better and apply one of the methods we just discussed. Consider what will make your audience want to talk and think about you as they leave your presentation to go back to the rest of their day. Try adding a call to action or an inspiring comment or anecdote, then redeliver the speech to yourself in the mirror. Next, apply the same technique to your next speech and see what happens. I would love to know how it went! Send me your thoughts and tell me if you thought you saw an improvement.
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