You’ve engaged your audience from the beginning of your presentation. They nodded as you delivered your message. Their eyes were locked as you wove through a carefully crafted medley of stories, anecdotes and analogies, all supporting your message. There’s no question; the majority of your audience agrees with what you’re saying.
Empowered, the time has come to bring your speech to a close, at which point you exclaim:
“In conclusion, I appreciate the time you spent listening about __________. Thank you.”
…and then nothing happens. Everyone quietly claps, or just nods, and leaves the conference room. What just happened? How did your audience go from edge-of-your-seat to almost asleep?
Whether you’re taking a company public, introducing a new product to market or delivering a lecture, the conclusion of the presentation is crucial to its success. It’s the final impression you leave with your audience. How you use those last few words will determine the kind of energy you leave in the room.
There are many effective ways to close a speech. In fact, many of the tips I’ve shared for opening a presentation will also work for the closing. One of my favorites techniques, however, is using a call to action because the closing of a speech is your chance to motivate your audience. Here are three ways to use it:
1. A Direct Call to Action. A speech or presentation without a call to action is a speech or presentation probably not worth giving. The close of your speech should clearly spell out what you want your audience to do next. Here are some examples:
“In order to guarantee that we save __________ tomorrow, we need to __________ today! Let’s get to work.”
“If every person in this room leaves and immediately __________, I guarantee you’ll enjoy __________ next year!”
“We can have __________ or we can have __________. The choice is ours, and is based entirely on the decision we each individually make today. __________ or __________. I know I’m choosing __________.”
2. A Call to Vision. You can also motivate your audience by sharing your vision. Create a mental picture for your listeners of what could happen as a result of your call to action . Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. illustrated this beautifully with the final words of his epic “I Have a Dream” speech:
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
3. A Call to Question. Finally, end with a rhetorical question that captures your message and leaves the audience thinking. One that directly ties into your call to action can be very effective. Here are two examples:
“What choice will you make when you leave here today? Will go about your normal routine or will you __________?”
“Ultimately, the future of __________ lies in your hands. When will you be ready to do something about it?”
What’s your favorite way to close a speech? Please share it in the comments below.