Effective Speech Endings
|A dynamic ending is critical to the success
of any presentation because the last thing said is what the audience
remembers best. It is where you epitomize your main message. Your
presentation will die a premature death with a wimp conclusion like:
"Well, I see I have run out of time" or "I don't have
anything more to say."
You can avoid dead endings by following a simple preparation and
delivery template. It works for all types of presentations including
teaching and training.
Effective endings require preparation and practice. They must be
planned. The end of your presentation is not the time to wind down or
improvise. Instead it is when you make your final, strategic sprint
toward your speech goal. Preparation for the ending starts with the
beginning. Who is you audience? What is your objective? Are you trying
to inform, persuade, entertain, or inspire? What results do you
Start with a robust beginning
Age old wisdom says a good beginning makes a good ending. You can
liken the beginning of a speech to the entrance to a building,
designed to bring people in. It sets the tone and conveys what to
expect inside. The exit is designed to transition people out into a
larger, external world. Often the entrance to a building is also the
exit but from a different perspective. As with the architecture, the
beginning and ending of presentations are flip sides of the same door.
Start on a forceful note and a ending follows easily. When you
struggle with an ending, it usually indicates a need to revisit your
on the Side - Part I - Beginnings)
Satisfy the objectives of the ending
|Create a sense of closure|
Similar to how you end conversations
|Emphasize the main point|
What the audience should do or expect next
|Make a lasting impact|
Package and deliver your message so it is easy to remember
|Reconnect emotionally with the audience|
In both the opening and the conclusion, the presenter should
convey positive emotions (confidence, eagerness, sincerity,
By contrast, the body of the speech is often relatively
unemotional, containing hard data and objective analysis.
Conform to the time frame
The ending of a speech should take the same proportion of the
allotted time as the opening, that is no more than 5 to 10%. In a 20
minute speech (the length of a typical panel presentation) this
translates to 1 to 2 minutes for the ending. Since both the ending and
beginning are relatively short, they demand the most attention during
the preparation phase. Mark Twain observed that it takes much longer
to prepare a short speech than a long one.
Use a simple technique to summarize your main point
- Call to action
"Here are two things you can do now X and Y."
- Refer back to the beginning
If you asked for a show of hands, posed a question or made a
startling statement relate back to the opening issue.
- Demonstrate how easy it is to apply your speech topic
Use a prop, role play or display
Sometimes it is better to show than to tell.
- Use a quotation
Add a dimension to your ideas with a quote from a celebrity or
- Ask a rhetorical question
"If we don't do this who will?"
- Tell a story to illustrate or confirm your main point"
I was naive like Red Riding Hood about Y2K before I discovered
that danger is often lurks in familiar settings. You know the
details of my story and can avoid my fate by..."
- Leave a tip or word of wisdom
"Let me leave you with this tip. It is better to rent a
judge than buy one."
- Repeat your key points
"When you vote, remember this proposal is A, B and C.
|Memorize your ending|
This enables you to conclude exactly as you prepared and not
hazard running over, going off target or losing focus.
|Time your ending|
You need to know how long the conclusion is so you know when to
begin the ending phase of your speech and more importantly so that
you stay within your allotted time.
|Increase your voice volume so you end with a crescendo.
|Avoid adding new topics to the ending that you forgot in the
There is a tendency for speakers to add details as they
end. Resist the temptation. Add-ons annoy audiences. They feel
like they are in a landing pattern when suddenly the plane takes
off again. As a result, they may not remember either the forgotten
detail or your ending.
|If you are presenting with presentation software, think twice
about whether you really need to continue to use technology for
your ending. Face-to-face interactions with audiences are most
persuasive and powerful. Unless you plan to end with a message
that requires an online demonstration, you may inadvertently
cancel out the emotional qualities which connect you to the
audience and make your final message memorable.|
To paraphrase T.S. Eliot Your presentation should "End with a
bang and not a whimper."