It’s happened time and again – a speaker is delivering a great talk. Her speech is well structured; her delivery is strong. But when she reaches the end of her speech, for some reason it all falls flat. The audience is not sure whether the speech has just ended or not. They aren’t sure what to really takeaway from the speech either.
Compare this to a speech that is average in delivery but ends with a bang. The difference in applause and impact is HUGE!
Ending your speech effectively is critical as that is what the audience will remember the most. Here are some rules to keep in mind when thinking of your speeches ending:
Don’t end abruptly
I was attending a workshop where they were teaching us about humorous speaking. They showed us a clip of this speaker who was delivering this amazingly hilarious talk. But when he ended his speech, nobody applauded.
That’s because nobody was sure whether he was done with his talk or not! He stated a point and just walked off the stage. I wish I had the clip to show it you people, but the point is that many speakers start strong, deliver well, but don’t pay much attention to how they will end their speech.
A conclusion should be written in a manner that makes it clear to the audience when you’re done with your speech.
In case you are in that situation where you have completed your talk but the audience is not applauding, just wait on stage. When one person starts clapping, look at them and mouth a “thank you”. This will be a good enough signal for the rest of the audience to follow with the applause.
We remember our speech because we have written it and rehearsed it. The audience is hearing it for the first time. There’s a good chance they won’t remember 95% of your talk after you leave the stage.
To make it easier for the audience to remember your talk, summarize your points towards the end of your speech. Keep the summary concise and to the point. A summary also helps eliminate any miscommunication with your audience.
What’s your point? (CTA)
Your entire speech has been leading up to this point – what is it that you want your audience to takeaway from your speech, what is it that you want them to do as a result of your speech? This CTA or call-to-action is the real meat of your conclusion. This also helps reinforce the main idea of your speech. Here are some things to keep in mind while writing your CTA:
- Make sure it’s clear, direct and concise so the audience knows exactly what they have to do
- Have a CTA that is applicable to your audience. You may need to customize your CTA for different audiences
- Try and keep as fewer barriers to action as you can when you ask your audience to act on something
- Focus on benefits for your audience. Show them what’s in it for them if they follow through on your action!
Don’t say “Thank you”
Most speakers end their speech with a simple “Thank you”. While this does become a clear way to end a speech, it’s been done to death. The audience will appreciate it if an ending is different and truly impactful. Saying “Thank you” just doesn’t do that. Here are some different ways you can use to end your speech:
I was attending an open mic night where people could go up on stage and perform anything – a song, a comedic act, a poem or tell a story. I remember this soft-spoken girl who went up on stage to deliver a story. The way she spoke and what she spoke was very conversational and informal which suited the occasion of an open mic.
But the real interesting thing was how she concluded her story – with the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It suited her story so well and just left the audience mesmerized.
See if you can end your talk with a poem that sums up what your speech has been all about. You can even write your own short poem. It can be a refreshing and powerful way to end a speech.
End with a story
This works similar to the poem concept. Many times we start our speech with a story or an anecdote, but ending your speech with a small story which sums up what you spoke about can be a memorable way to end a talk.
A story offers all the ingredients for a perfect conclusion – the introduction can let the audience know that you are going to be concluding your talk now, the body can summarize the main points of your speech and the end (or the moral of the story) can state your CTA or key takeaway.
Here’s how Tony Robbins perfectly ends his famous TED talk leaving his audience hungry for more.
The circle theory
The circle theory is something that I have personally used to end my speeches and works wonders. The idea is to end your speech where you start it.
To give you an example, here’s the line I used to start and end one of my speeches:
“The world today can be classified into 2 kinds of people, one – the lost and second – those who are lost but don’t accept it.”
When I said this line towards the ending, I added another line to conclude with my CTA. It allowed me to take the audience on a journey and bring them back to where we started.
The idea of doing this is because the audience is always more receptive to familiarity. They are already familiar with what you first said. Saying it again makes them go back to the beginning and helps them recall the rest of your speech.
Let the audience end it for you
Ending speeches with clichéd quotes can get boring. But this can be used to our advantage. If you end your speech with a very recognizable quote, you don’t have to say the whole quote. You can start off with it and point your arms towards the audience indicating them to complete it.
For instance, if you end your speech on innovation with the famous Steve Jobs quote “Stay hungry, stay foolish”, you can start off with saying “And as Steve Jobs said, let us continue to stay hungry, stay ____ (point your hands towards the audience)” and let them say the word “foolish”.
This is just an example, but you get the point. It causes the ending to be much more impactful as compared you yourself saying a clichéd quote.
The ending of a speech is critical. So make sure you spend enough time crafting an impactful ending. A good ending can turn an average speech into a good one, and a good speech into a great one!