How you choose to conclude your speech with style and panache is pivotal to successful public speaking. Your opening comments aim to seize the attention of your audience. However, it’s your closing remarks that keep their attention. And, furthermore, they will keep the main points of your speech in your audience’s memory.
The conclusion to your speech can take many forms. But one thing is certain. It shouldn’t be rushed; because it’s your final opportunity to make your points memorable and it’s got to be thought through. So, to help your speech planning we’ve listed the five main ways that you might use to conclude a speech. Most speakers will use a combination of at least two of these when they conclude. With some practice and self-training you can do the same.
In a summary you re-emphasise all the key points that you have already made earlier in your speech. Thus, you re-emphasise their importance. You re-establish their relevance to your audience. In the same vein, a winding-up conclusion pulls together the main strands of your speech, shows their mutual connection to one another; and then confirms their importance and relevance. A thesis summary, similarly, re-makes the key points of your argument and confirms their validity. This George Osborne speech is a good example.
A call to action is used when you want your audience to do something. So, if the aim of your speech is for your audience to do something tangibly different—after listening to your speech—then now’s the time to say it. Again. If you are looking for “commitment”, an order or a contract, then ask for it. You can see this in action with the Prince Charles food speech.
An inspired conclusion involves you telling a story, anecdote or quotation to make your final point. Therefore, if you aim for your audience to do something then an illustrative anecdote could be right for you. If you want to summarise, then a quotation—amusing or historical—might work. In all cases your choice of illustration is key. Inspiration requires a certain tone. This President Obama New Orleans speech did the job.
A humorous finish might involve you telling a story or an anecdote to illustrate your major point from an alternative perspective. It’s a useful means to show how others might have wrestled with the point, made light of it, but still recognised its value. To see how this works, you can take a look at the 2019 Tracey Crouch Loyal Address, where she mixes purpose with humour in her conclusion.
A reference closing refers to a date, an event or an external happening to set your speech in a wider context and reinforce its relevance. Your task is to set your speech in a wider frame of reference—politics, business, or sporting history. It’s very similar to the opening reference approach. You could use it to start and finish your speech.
5 Top tips showing you how to finish your speech.
Finishing your speech well requires some work and training. But that work is worthwhile. Because you don’t want to revert to the approach taken in this Sir John Vickers speech. It’s not a good solution. So, you have the opportunity to boost the collective memory of your speech among your audience. And that’s your aim when you finish your speech.
For more public speaking skills tips and other ways to finish your speech you can always join a public speaking course. You can join a public course at one of more than 40 presentation training centres. Or, as an alternative, why not ask us to run a course at your place of work. Because a tailored course could be just right for all your team.
“It is quite amazing how two people can read the same book and yet reach different conclusions.”
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