Putting together and delivering an effective speech takes time and the right strategy. One of the most challenging aspects is figuring out how to end a speech effectively. You might have prepared a fantastic opening and delivered a compelling message, but if you fail to wrap up your speech in a powerful and memorable way, your audience may leave feeling unsatisfied or even forget what you said altogether.
Many speakers struggle with their closing words, whether it’s because they run out of time, they lose their train of thought, or they simply don’t know how to bring everything together in a cohesive and impactful way. This can lead to a lack of confidence, anxiety, and even embarrassment, all of which can significantly hinder your ability to communicate your message effectively.
In this article we’ll explore some proven tips and strategies, show you three simple techniques that summarize your message and key ideas, and explain how to get your audience members to take action. You’ll start delivering the final words of your speeches with confidence and know you’re leaving a lasting impression on your audience. Whether you’re a seasoned speaker looking to polish your skills or a newcomer to public speaking, this article will help you overcome the hurdles of ending a great speech so you can deliver a powerful and memorable message every time. Your last words will be your most impactful words.
What is a Good Closing Message?
Three Ways to Close a Speech Effectively
What is a Strong Concluding Statement?
Need Help Closing Your Speech?
Why is a Conclusion Important?
“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of the ending.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The conclusion of your speech is arguably the most critical part. It’s the pinnacle of your persuasion, the culmination of everything you’ve talked about so far, and it’s the moment when you state your final call to action. This is why it’s crucial to devote sufficient time and attention to crafting your last inspiring words and final point.
Your conclusion is where you’ll leave your audience with the most significant take away from your speech. These closing words are the last impression they’ll have of you and your key message, and it’s where you can reinforce the key message points you’ve made throughout your presentation. By reiterating your main message and summarizing your key arguments, you can ensure that your audience remembers your message long after your speech is over in such a way that inspires them to take action.
The conclusion is also where you summarize your entire speech and make your final call to action. Whether it’s encouraging your audience to remember and take specific actions, supporting a particular cause, or adopting a new way of thinking, your conclusion is the time to motivate your audience to act. This is where you can challenge them to make a difference, do something, or think differently about a particular issue.
Most importantly, your conclusion can make or break your speech. A weak or ineffective ending can leave your audience feeling unimpressed or even confused, undermining the impact of your entire presentation up to that point. Conversely, a strong and impactful conclusion can leave a lasting impression on your audience, motivating them to take action and inspiring them to share your message with others. It even has the potential to turn an average persuasive speech into an unforgettable speech.
Because the conclusion of your speech is so important, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that your final words are as effective as possible. By crafting a strong and impactful conclusion, you can leave your audience with a lasting impression, and ensure that your message is remembered long after your closing statement.
BE AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATORSuasive Presentation CoachingOur Program
What is a good closing message?
A good closing is a bookend to your opening, but is much more concise. It should resolve the entire presentation. In the beginning you grab your audience’s attention. Next you navigate them through all the parts. Finally you introduce your call to action so the audience knows what to expect. Your speech’s closing message should fulfill the classical requirements of any story: a strong beginning, a solid middle, and a decisive end.
To fully understand how your closing message connects with your opening you’ll need to first understand the three parts of your opening and how to think about them: Opening Gambit, USP, and Point B.
The Opening Gambit is a series of short sentences to get the audience engaged and establish a need for your idea, concept, or solution. Suasive recommends the following seven Opening Gambits.
- Rhetorical question Get your audience thinking about your message by posing a meaningful question that is relevant to them. Scott Cook, the founding CEO of Intuit, used a rhetorical phrase when making a presentation at the Robertson, Stephens, and Company Technology Investment Conference in San Francisco. He began with: “Let me begin today’s presentation with a question. How many of you balance your checkbooks? May I see a show of hands?” Almost everyone’s hand went up. “Okay. Now how many of you like doing it?” Everyone’s hand went down. He had their focus because he got them moving their body and used an easy question that would resonate with everyone. If he had launched into his presentation with a detailed description of Quicken accounting software, he likely would have lost them. Instead, he engaged the audience with a personal question and got them focused on thinking about their checkbooks.
- Factoid You can convert any question to a simple, striking statistic or factual statement to capture your audience’s attention. For instance, instead of asking, “How many iPhones are sold each year?” (which cedes control of the floor), turn it into a Factoid: “185 million iPhones are sold every year.” The Factoid you choose should be related to the main theme of your presentation and not just dropped in for shock value. We’ve all heard off-the-wall statements that only serve to throw the audience off track all the while never coming back to the main point thread or thesis.
- Retrospective/Prospective A Retrospective (backward) or Prospective (forward) look allows you to grab your audience’s attention by moving them in one direction or another, away from their present, immediate concerns. Consider this technique as a flashback or flashforward, or “That was then, this is now.” For instance, you could refer to the way things used to be done, the way they are done now, and the way you project them being done in the future. Technology companies often choose to start their presentations with a look back to earlier functions to contrast how their new technology disrupts the same functionality: library search before the internet, cassette tapes before digital music, brick and mortar shopping before e-commerce, a rat’s nest of tangled wiring before Bluetooth, and keypad entry before facial recognition.
- Anecdote An anecdote is a brief human interest story. “Personal stories” have recently become the holy grail of storytelling. A tsunami of consultants, courseware, workshops, seminars, blogs, and publications are now advising individuals and businesses to develop their great speeches and presentations by reaching deep inside themselves for a heartwarming opening anecdote. People naturally identify with other people, and a personal story can create empathy.
- Quotation You can also use a relevant quotation from a well-known, reliable source such as William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Tom Peters or, as many businesspeople do, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Yet the best famous quotation is something from a third party that credentializes you, your idea, or your company. Whichever you use, be sure to tie the quotation closely to your content.
- Aphorism An Aphorism is a well-known saying, maxim, or idiom. Because of its familiarity, as soon as you state an Aphorism, it rings a bell in your audience’s minds. They may not even recognize the source, but it brings them to attention.
- Analogy Analogies help explain complex subjects. If your business involves highly technical or specialized products, services, or systems, a simple analogous comparison can help clarify. During the early days of the internet, companies developing networking products analogized the web to highways: with main roads to represent carriers, interchanges to represent routing and switching equipment, on-ramps and off-ramps to represent local carriers, and tolls to represent revenues.
Unique Selling Proposition
Once you’ve stated your Opening Gambit, it’s time for your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The USP is a succinct summary of your business, describing the basic premise that describes what your company, product, or service does. One of the most common complaints about presentations is “I listened to them for 30 minutes, and I still don’t know what they do!” The USP is what they do.
The Opening Gambit grabbed your viewer’s attention and established need, and your USP demonstrates your solution to that need with maximum clarity. It summarizes the body or middle part of your speech. The best USPs are short and are communicated in one sentence.
Which company’s USP is “Melt in your mouth, not in your hand?”
Did you guess it? M&Ms of course.
Point B is your call to action. It’s how you end your speech with a bang and plan to bring your audience to action. The Opening Gambit, USP, and Point B are all connected in a sequence that feeds into one another.
Here’s an example of a full sequence from Opening Gambit to Point B.
- Opening Gambit (Anecdote): Last year, one of Acme’s customers had a flood in their home. The sprinkler system broke and damaged all the furniture, carpets, and other possessions. Not only did they lose their home, they took a big financial hit.
- Link: This customer is like many customers who purchase a basic policy not customized to their individual needs. That means being just one step away from disaster.
- USP: Acme Insurance has a solution. We can provide you with a customized, value-added package of insurance that provides for your Individual needs to protect you against serious financial loss.
- Proof of Concept (POC)–evidence that your USP is worthy: That’s why Acme is one of the fastest-growing insurance brokers in the state.
- Link: I know that you’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity…
- Point B: …and sign up for this important coverage today.
You can see how all three elements feed into each other. One can’t effectively exist without the other. What’s great about the three steps is they compromise your entire speech outline on a macro level, and you can also use them again on a micro level within the closing section of your presentation.
Three Ways to Close a Speech Effectively
“Tell ’em what you’ve told ’em” is a classic closing technique that involves summarizing your main points and reiterating your message in a clear and concise way. This technique helps to reinforce your key ideas and ensure that your audience remembers them long after your speech is over. By summarizing your main points and restating your message, you can drive home the key takeaways and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
“Tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em” is your closing, a bookend to your opening, and includes three key elements: a Bookend Gambit (like the Opening Gambit but more concise), Recap (of the agenda and your main points), and Point B (call to action).
The Bookend Gambit is a powerful technique that involves referencing your Opening Gambit in your closing remarks. This technique creates a sense of closure and brings your presentation full circle, leaving your audience feeling satisfied and fulfilled.
A brief Recap of your agenda is the second element of the closing technique. By summarizing what you’ve covered you can reinforce the key points you’ve made and drive home your message in a powerful and impactful way.
Point B is the third element and involves making a clear and compelling call to action in your closing remarks. This technique encourages your audience to take specific actions based on the message you’ve delivered, whether it’s signing a petition, making a donation, or simply changing their behavior. By providing a clear and actionable next step, you can motivate your audience to take action and make a difference.
What is a Strong Concluding Statement?
A strong concluding statement is critical for leaving a long-term impression on your audience and motivating them to take action. You want to end your speech with your audience thinking about your objective, willing to do what you want them to do. It’s the last thing they hear you say at the end of your speech, and for many leading speakers it holds the most weight.
One of the most effective ways to close your speech with a bang is with a clear and concise call to action, also known as Point B as discussed above. This final remark should be a short and powerful statement that encapsulates the central message of your presentation and inspires your audience to act.
For example, let’s suppose that in your opening statement you said, “So that we can control our own destiny, I’m seeking your approval and a budget to start this unit.” In your closing statement, you might shorten this message to “All we need is your approval.” This statement is short, clear, and to the point, emphasizing the importance of your request.
Need Help Closing Your Speech?
Putting all the pieces of your speech or presentation together takes know how. The good news is because it’s more science than art, anyone can learn how to do it with the right training. A good presentation has all the parts of a good compelling story – a beginning, middle, and end. The only difference is the pacing and delivery techniques, but story is still at the heart. With practice and preparation, you can improve your speech writing and delivering skills, and make sure your ideas are heard and considered.
So whether you are preparing for a job interview, a presentation at work, or an entire speech in front of a large audience, remember to believe in yourself, focus on your key points, and prepare to the best of your ability. When it’s time to deliver your closing remarks, be sure to incorporate the three techniques you learned in this article and we’re confident you’ll make an impact.
How to tell your story so the audience feels it’s their story.Our Methodology
Suasive, Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based communication consulting company that offers public speaking classes for organizations and individuals. To date, we’ve coached over 600 CEOs and helped individuals in some of the world’s largest companies including Netflix, eBay, Sonos, Lyft, and Freshworks.
Start Your public speaking Training