Knowing how to end a speech is just as important as knowing how to begin. Truly.
*Cautionary and true tales from the 'she'll be right', 'I prefer spontaneity. It's more authentic.' or 'wing it' department. What happens when you don't plan how to end your speech.
Research tells us that people most commonly remember the first and last things they hear when listening to a speech, seminar or lecture.
If you want your speech to create a lasting impression sliding out
'Well, that's all I've got say. My time's up anyway. Thanks for listening.'
... isn't going to do it.
So what will?
Here are three effective alternative ways to end a speech. Each ensures your speech ends powerfully rather than a fading away.
A summary of your most important points ending with a:
To work out which of these to use, ask yourself what you want people to do or feel as a result of listening to your speech. For instance;
What you choose to do with your ending should support the overall purpose of your speech.
Let's look at three different scenarios showing each of these ways to end a speech in action.
Your speech purpose is to inspire people to join your cause.
You've summarized the main points and want to finish with a statement to propel the audience into action.
Borrowing words from a revered and respected leader aligns your cause with those they fought for, powerfully blending the past with the present.
'Martin Luther King, Jr said 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.' Now is the time to decide. Now is the time to act. Now. Where do you stand?'
Your speech purpose is to motivate your sales force.
You've covered the main points in the body of it including introducing an incentive - a holiday as a reward for the best sales figures. You've reiterated those main points and have reached the closing sentences. The end is a challenge.
'You have three weeks from the time you leave this hall to make that dream family holiday in New Zealand yours. Can you do it? Will you do it? The kids will love it. Your wife will love it. Do it now!'
Your speech purpose is to honor the memory of a dear friend who passed
You've briefly revisited the principal points of your speech and wish to
leave the audience with a happy compelling image to dwell on. Earlier in the speech you told a poignant story, it's that you return to or call back.
Here's an example of what you could say:
'Remember that picnic tale? Every blue sky summer's day I'll see Amy in my mind. Her red picnic rug will be spread on green grass under the shade of an old oak tree. There'll be food, friends and laughter. I'll see her smile, her pleasure at sharing the simple things and I know what she'd say too. I can hear her. 'Come on, try a piece of pie. My passing is not the end of the world you know.'
That old cliche 'failing to plan is planning to fail' can bite and its teeth are sharp. The 'wing it' department delivers lessons learned the hard way. I know, and remember the bruising!
How many of these traps have caught you?
More speech writing help
Visit this page to find out about structuring a speech.
You'll find information on writing the body, opening and conclusion as well as those all important transitions.
Sharing your words of wisdom
If you have any public speaking tips that could help others and would like to share them, like for instance more examples of how to end a speech, you're more than welcome to enter them on this tips and speeches page. I'd love to hear from you and I know my visitors would eagerly read your suggestions.