People remember longest the last thing they hear, so a speech conclusion needs special attention to ensure overall effectiveness and success. Don’t let your otherwise brilliant speech be ruined by a poor conclusion – conclusions are not an ‘optional extra’.
Note. Evaluations are mini-speeches so also need conclusions.
Criteria for Successful Conclusions
- Achieve the sense of closure people need – otherwise its like a joke without a punch-line!
- Summarise and review the main points – repetition reinforces messages and ideas.
- Make an impact – leave your audience with a positive and favourable impression
- Take 5% – 10% of the entire speech time
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- End on time
- Memorise your closing
- Don’t introduce new material/ ideas
Use a quotation, ask a rhetorical question, summarise the main points or tell a story or anecdote. If you want people to do something, make your ‘call to action’ specific and include next steps. Referring back to your introduction brings the audience full circle and completes the journey.
Extract from an article on the TI website, which gives examples of opening and closing ‘recipes’. www.toastmasters.org A blended approach, combining techniques or ‘recipes’, can increase your impact considerably.
• Thought-Provoking or Intriguing Statement
Introduction: “The leading cause of death to pregnant women is murder.”
Conclusion: “So while the leading cause of death to pregnant women is murder, there are steps women can take to reduce risk. Please share this information with anyone you know who might use it.”
• Startling Statistics
Introduction: “One out of every three children in the United States is growing up in poverty. And yet, eight billion dollars a month is spent on the war in Iraq.”
Conclusion: “The United States can no longer afford to let a third of its children grow up in poverty. It’s time to stop the spending outside our country and focus on our own citizens.”
• Emotionally Appealing Short Story or Anecdote
Introduction: “Let me tell you about the last time I visited the local animal shelter….Old dogs, young dogs and puppies looked hopefully from behind bars to see if this human would take them home and love them. Brown eyes looked questioningly, and tails wagged hopefully, then stopped dejectedly as I walked past their cages. One dog, obviously distraught, lunged at the bars in fear of her life. She knew the chances of going home were next to zero.”
Conclusion: “If you do not neuter or spay your pet, I encourage you to visit the local animal shelter. Look into the eyes of the animals who did not choose to be born and then abandoned. As human beings, it is our responsibility to take care of the creatures who do not have the ability to control their own reproduction.”
Make sure it is an open-ended question. With a yes or no question, there is the risk of the listener mentally saying “yes” or “no,” and not listening to the rest of your speech. Open-ended questions use the words “how,” “what,” “where,” “who” or “why.”
Introduction: “What would you do if you won the lottery? Some people might go on a spending spree, while others might book nonstop travel arrangements. Hopefully, a few might decide to donate to the charity of their choice.”
Conclusion: “So if you won the lottery after hearing about all these types of charities, which ones would you donate to?”
• Compare or Contrast
Introduction: “While I grew up cooking with sugar, I’ve been experimenting with sugar substitutes for more healthful cooking. Not all sugar substitutes are equal (pun intended). Splenda, Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, honey and molasses are all slightly different in how they affect cooking. I’m here to tell you about my experiments in swapping out sugar with substitutes.”
Conclusion: “If you like to cook and are concerned about your sugar intake, or if you cook for a diabetic person, sugar substitutes have their pros and cons. It’s a discovery process in your very own kitchen. Have fun experimenting!”