How do you close a great speech?

How to conclude your next speech with maximum impact

Imagine this – your presentation skills have just allowed you to deliver an incredible speech. The audience is hanging on your every word. But all good things must come to an end and you need to finish off your speech in a befitting way. So, how do you do it?

Award-winning writer Richard Dowis outlined seven different ways to end a speech in his 1999 book "The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One – How to Deliver It". Here's how you can perform the art of a great speech.

1. Summary

A summary closing pulls together all the points made in the body of the speech and condenses them into a few key ideas. Think of it as a second pass through the main points, to really solidify the message of your presentation in your audience's mind.

2. Humorous

If you have a humorous anecdote or story that's relevant to your presentation, using it as a closer can be a great way to finish things off. A laugh at the end can reflect well on the rest of the speech, making people remember it in a more positive and personal light.

3. Wrap up

Closing with an idea or phrase that you began your presentation with can act as a nice closer. Think of both the end and the introduction as bookends to the story you've been telling. A wrap up closer draws things to a close in a natural way, and can link the start of your presentation to the end in a useful fashion.

Keep theses methods in mind next time you're planning the end of your speech.Keep theses methods in mind next time you're planning the end of your speech.

4. Direct appeal

A direct appeal is a call to action for the audience. It's a chance for you to tell them what to take away from your talk – something that will make your presentation much better.

5. Thesis

If your presentation had a thesis or main idea running through it, a restatement of that thesis at the end can contextualise the presentation to your audience. It's like a mental framework on which they can hang all the specific information they absorbed from your speech.

6. Reference

Emphasising the connection you have to the people and context you're talking in – be it colleagues, a charity group or B2B pitch – brings the audience closer and helps them understand the "why" of your presentation.

7. Inspirational

In a similar vein to the humorous option, an inspirational closing aims to generate a feeling in your audience they can associate with your speech – in this case, inspiration. Like a direct appeal, it can also generate real motivation in your audience to act on what they've heard.

For more information on our presenting courses, get in touch with ICML today.


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