Recently, I read an article about the six worst ways to end a speech. This is their list:
- Not announcing you’re wrapping up.
- Not offering a summary.
- Not providing a call to action.
- Leaving the audience with a ‘dud ending.’
- Failing to tie up loose ends.
- Concluding with a Q&A.
I’ve done more than a few speeches in the past. Some were better than others, but each was a learning experience.
I have to admit that I usually just do what feels right instead of keeping to a formula. However, I can say that it’s always appreciated to let people know when the end is in sight. You’ll regain the attention of those who have drifted away into daydreams and refocus the attention of those listening attentively.
I think that whether or not a summary is given will depend on the type of speech you are giving. For example, I didn’t give one at a mural dedication I spoke at, because my topic could be wrapped up with just a sentence.
Be creative at providing a call to action, but it might be as simple as giving attention to the next speaker or asking the audience to remember something.
To avoid a dud ending, you might want to tell a funny story or end with a good tip for something the audience might want to try. An audience is always more forgiving of any mistakes you might have made if they feel happy or appreciative when you finish.
Tying up loose ends is particularly important, if you won’t have an opportunity to address your audience again. Think about how annoying it is for a television show you’ve been watching to end with a cliff hanger as the series finale.
And, last but not least, you should always save a moment at the end of a Q&A to end things as planned. A while ago, I was the moderator for a panel about becoming a professional writer. I kept a keen eye on the clock to be sure that I could tell the audience when I was taking the last question and, after the question was answered, I did a very brief summary and ended things on a positive, encouraging note. Try it. This is your big chance to get the last word!