Ending a speech – Conclusions.

Ending a speech the right way is important! See here how to do it the right way.

Why do we need a conclusion?
Prepare the audience for the end of the speech / Present any final appeals / Do not present any new information / Summarize and wrap-up

Prepare the audience for the end of the speech
A speech does not just stop—or, to be more precise, a speech should not just stop. A speech, effectively structured and delivered, should move smoothly from point to point and then to the conclusion. One of the most important functions of the conclusion is to prepare the audience for the end of the speech.

Present any Final Appeals
Depending on the type of speech you are presenting, you will be asking the audience for something. You may be asking them to act in a certain way, or to change their attitude toward a certain person or topic. You may be asking them to simply understand what you have had to say in your presentation. Regardless, one of the tasks of the conclusion is to leave the audience motivated positively toward you and the topic you have been presenting.

Do Not Present Any New Information
While it is important to present your appeal and any call to action in the conclusion, it is also important to NOT present new information in your conclusion. Remember: One of the functions of the conclusion is to prepare the audience for the end of the speech. If all of the sudden you present a new argument, new information, or a new point, you will confuse your audience.

Summarize and wrap-up
A conclusion is structural in function. Just as the introduction must include a statement of the purpose of the speech, as well as a preview of the main ideas of the speech, the conclusion must include a restatement of the thesis and a review of the main ideas of the speech. The review and restatement are mirror images of the preview statement in the introduction. Structurally, the restatement and review bring the speech back to the top of the circle and remind the audience where we started. Functionally, they help cue the audience that the end of the speech is coming up.


How to do

1. Signal that you are concluding

Audiences appreciate this gesture. It’s a great way to draw attention to your main points for one last time and to make the audience aware of the fact that something important is coming up.

“Before concluding my talk, let me remind you of the three most important elements of well-designed visual aids.”

2. Summarize your main points

Focus on your  key points that prove your thesis true. If you left someone out during the talk, let it go. Once you have promised to conclude your remarks, do so!

“As I hope you’ll recall, I believe that effective visuals are big, bold and brief.”

3. Suggest a call to action or a memorable statement

For persuasive or motivational talks, you want to give your audience specific steps to take next. .Informative talks require a pithy ending. Often this is a quotation or the rest of the story (from your introductory attention getter).

“Whether you are using newsprint, Power Point, or a white board, your audience will appreciate it if you will K.I.S.S. your visuals. That is, Keep it Simple, Speaker.”

4. Leave your audience with a warm message.
As with any conversation, you want to end your talk with a polite gesture that signals that you have concluded and allows your audience to start applauding

Example closings:

#1 – Bookend Close
For a bookend speech closing, refer back to your opening anecdote or quote and say, “We have arrived, now, where we began.”

Then reiterate the message you want your audience to remember. This will achieve symmetry in the classic 3-part speech outline: Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em; tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you just told ‘em.’

#2 – Challenge Close
Challenge your audience to apply what you have told them in the speech.

If you were concluding a speech on the importance of taking action, you could say:

“Let’s turn from spectators into participants. Let’s recall the inspiring words of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt who said:

‘Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to remain with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.’

We have too much to do to sit on the sidelines. We need you to step out of the gray twilight into the bright sunshine so that we can all see the dawn of a new day.”

#3 – Echo Close
“Last words crystallize your thoughts, galvanize your message, and mobilize your audience.”

— Peter Jeff
Focus on one word in a quotation and emphasize that word to echo your final point.

For example, consider the five echoes of the word “do” in this ending to a speech on the importance of getting involved in the education process:

“More than 450 years before the birth of Christ, Confucius said: ‘What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand.’

Let’s do it together. We’ve heard what we have to do. We’ve seen what we need to do. Now is the time to do it, and, together, we can do it.”

#4 – Repetitive Close
Find a phrase and structure it in a repetitive format that strikes the cadence of a drummer, building to a crescendo ending of a motivational speech:

“Architects cannot renovate it.
Businesses cannot incorporate it.
Churches cannot inculcate it.
Developers cannot innovate it.
Engineers cannot calculate it.
Governments cannot legislate it.
Judges cannot adjudicate it.
Lawyers cannot litigate it.
Manufacturers cannot fabricate it.
Politicians cannot appropriate it.
Scientist cannot formulate it.
Technicians cannot generate it.
Only you can orchestrate it.”

#5 – Title Close
Give your speech a provocative title that encapsulates your message memorably. Then, use the title of your speech as your closing words to stir your audience to think more fully about what they just heard, reinforcing the title of the speech that you referenced earlier.

Hint: Try writing the ending of your speech first to better construct the title.

#6 – Sing Song Close
Ask the audience to repeat a phrase that you used several times in your speech.

Let say your phrase is: “Together, we can win.” You repeat that phrase over and over again. Then just before your close, you say: “I know that all of you are talented, all of you are driven. I know that none of us can do this alone, but (pause) Together (pause) we can (pause until the audience responds.)

#7 – Callback Close
Refer back to a story you told where some activity was not fully completed. Then pick up the story and close it around your theme.

For example:

“Remember those bubbles that four year old held so gently in his hands? Well now those same gentle hands are now poised skillfully around the hearts of hundreds of people. Today he is a heart surgeon.”

#8 – Movie Close
Make a reference to a well-known movie or book.

For example, in concluding a speech on the maturity of a product line and the need to leave the past behind and create new and different products, an executive concluded a speech with a reference to growing pangs. The speaker alluded to the final scene in the movie Summer of ‘42. The main character is Hermie. Now an adult he is reminiscing about his lost adolescence.

“ ‘Life is made up of small comings and goings. And for everything we take with us, there is something that we leave behind. In the summer of ’42, we raided the Coast Guard Station 4 times. We saw 5 movies. And we had 9 days of rain. Benji broke his watch. Oskie gave up the harmonica. And in a very special way, I lost Hermie, forever.’

So too this year, in a very special way, we have lost our old company in a very special way. Now we are moving on to a stronger, more mature company.”

#9 – Quotation Close
Use a famous quotation to harness the audience’s attention, much like turning on a spotlight.

For example, if you were concluding a speech on the importance of maintaining self confidence in the face of adversity, you could say:

“We have to be like the bird –the bird that author Victor Hugo one observed – the bird that pauses in its flight awhile, on boughs too light, – on a branch that is likely to break– feels that branch break, yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”

#10 – Third Party Close
Take the use of a quotation up a notch with the Third Party Close. Leverage the use of a quotation in context of your message. Use the premise of that quotation to frame your finale so that it serves as a launching pad to lift your message high for the audience to more fully appreciate.

If you were concluding a speech on the importance of embracing change, you could say:

Change has become a way of life to a better life. We have to recall the insight of President Abraham Lincoln, on the brink of Civil War and fighting the near 100-year long tradition of slavery in the United States dating back to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves. Lincoln looked change directly in the eye and said:

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present and future. As our circumstances are new, we must think anew and act anew.”

And so must we. We need to look at this old issue in a new way, not simply for today but to make our tomorrows more rewarding, more fulfilling, and more compelling because of the change we make today. With your help, we can think anew and act anew on the issue before us today.”