PUBLIC SPEAKING: CLOSE YOUR SPEECH WITH POWER
[This week’s blog post contains an excerpt from my book ‘How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking’]
As both a public speaker and a singer, in my years of performing on stage, I always took it as a slight affront if the crowd didn’t ask for a couple more songs at the end of my set. During a musical performance, people can let you know if they want an encore by shouting out “One more!”
It’s not the same when you’re making a speech.
In speaking, the audience show their appreciation with a standing ovation or some hearty cheers. Help them out by providing them with an inspiring ending they can appreciate.
Public Speaking – Don’t peter out at the end
Closing your speech is an art. Many people go in with a bang and out with a whimper. Don’t spoil a perfectly good speech by ending abruptly and sidling off the stage with an embarrassed look on your face.
In his book Instant Speaking Success, the American speaker Paul Evans says, don’t close a speech. Instead, ‘re-open’ it.
End your speech on a high and hopeful note. In a way, the end of your speech is just the beginning for the audience.
Imagine you’ve just run your lap of a relay race and you’re now handing over the baton to the members of the audience. You’re urging them to take your information, apply it, and execute on the call to action. You’re encouraging them to run a race that might even change their lives. Therefore, it could be the start of something big for them. Your close should end with hope, with energy, with an air of possibility, and a sense of “What’s next?”
A good way to end is with a recap of what you’ve covered. You can say “In conclusion” or “As I come to the end of my talk . . .” or something similar. Then précis your content with a summary of your top three points (or fewer depending on how much time you have). You then want to make your call to action.
Repeat your key message
Earlier in the book, I discuss the idea of having a core message, a throughline or a foundational phrase that summarises the essence of what you want the audience to take away. This is the time to repeat that phrase and also to add any explanation or moral to the story that helps to drive the point home.
You could also:
- Ask a thought-provoking rhetorical question to get the audience thinking about your content and how it applies to their own lives.
- Recite a statistic, perhaps the same one you opened with, and ask the audience what they’re going to do about it.
- Tell a powerful story that sums up your message.
PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR BUSINESS? GET THEM TO TAKE ACTION
Get them thinking and acting, and you’ve created transformation. This may be something as small as signing up to your mailing list. Once you have their contact details, you can then continue the conversation and help ensure their transformation takes place.
Save your close until AFTER your Q&A. Close with energy and feeling. Remember that this is one of the most memorable parts of your talk.
If you have a trick up your sleeve that you can delay until the end, then it’s a great way to go out with a bang. The audience will be buzzing and wanting more, and you’ll have lifted the energy in the room.
PUBLIC SPEAKING – AVOID A WEAK ENDING
Your open and your close are the most memorable parts of your talk. Don’t waste a great opportunity to make an impression by closing weakly.