"This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper!"
~ T.S. Eliot
WARNING: When it comes to ending your speech, the last thing you want to do is go out with a whimper! In speaking it's important how you start and especially how you finish.
Let's look at this scenario: Let's assume; God willing, you haven made the mistake of talking too long and wearing out your welcome and you're ready to finish.
Guess what? Your final words do more than summarize your speech and provide a platform for you to end on your final words are likely to be the most remembered part of your presentation.
Don't think you can just say thank you and sit down. Courtroom summations and political debates, to name a couple of examples, end on powerful notes, designed to stick in your psyche and be remembered.
Your closing words must be as compelling; you must aim to go out with a bang!
There is nothing more disappointing than being all psyched up and feeling gung-ho, coasting along on the momentum created by a powerful speech, only to be let down at the end by an anticlimactic finish.
Have You Ever Thought HOW You Are Going To Close your Presentation?
And worse, if the speaker doesn't persuade his audience with his final words, perhaps to donate to a worthy cause, or buy back of the room product, or whatever the aim is, if he fails to move people, then his speech was a waste of time.
If you measure the success of your speech by the results, an uninspired and disappointed audience probably means you've failed.
There are different ways to close your speech your choice will depend on the mood of your topic and presentation. Some speeches lend themselves to a humorous ending, while others require a more sobering finish.
However you choose to end it, make it memorable and if you haven't made it clear to your audience during your speech what further action was required of them, make sure you include it in your ending; because it will be your last opportunity and an appropriate time to remind them.
As a comedian and speaker who favors the humorous approach, I'm all for humorous endings, provided, of course, that it's appropriate. Of course, if you were delivering a eulogy at a service, (this would probably not be the time to try and be funny!)
Although at a funeral many years ago for a comedian friend of mine there in attendance was Jay Leno, Paul Reiser, Jerry Seinfeld. I can assure you there was LOTS of laughter in that service for the deceased the wildly funny Dennis Wolfberg, who wouldn't had wanted it any other way.
However, if your presentation was purely for entertainment value, you may well be expected to leave the audience laughing.
Always Go Out With a Bang!
It's easier to go out with a bang when your audience responds with laughter and thunderous applause. You can bet you’ve made a strong impression on them and your speech will be remembered. People will be quoting you and talking about you around the water-cooler for days.
There is something about humor that people remember more readily than solemnity. People love to laugh and they like to remember things that make them laugh.
An appreciative and happy audience also provides a great backdrop for you to take your final bow and leave the stage. It makes you look good and it makes you feel good.
If your topic was on a more serious matter and ending on a humorous note would be inappropriate, you can still make a powerful impact on your audience with your closing statements. For example, you could finish with a thought-provoking quotation from somebody famous.
There are many quotation websites on the internet and you will have no trouble finding something suitable for your subject. Otherwise you could tell them one last story, something poignant that both moves them and stirs their soul to take the action you require.
Remember: Depending on your subject and the overall mood of your presentation, you can also provide twist endings that are unexpected, and therefore, stand out and will be remembered.
For example, if you have had your audience rolling in the aisles throughout your very humorous and witty presentation, you can finish on a somber note that shows that frivolity aside, you take the matter seriously, and so should they.
Yes, yin and yang, as they say. This is why you seen singers do a very upbeat balled and follow it with a slow mood song. It's to take the audience on a different journey and NOT be predictable!
Lead Inspire and Entertain Your Audience Always!
Words to the wise: Regardless of your planned finish, let your audience know the end is near so they will pay attention, however, don't just end it abruptly.
A hasty well,that's it from me, thanks for coming and off you go is unprofessional and will show you are inexperienced and that you weren't prepared.
A good speaker doesn't just talk to his audience. If he isn't there to entertain, then he is there to inspire, motivate or lead. If your talk hasn&t achieved much of that up to this point, you only have your closing statements to achieve this, so make the most of them.
If your audience is just staring at you and the room is silent and the air is thick with awkwardness, now would be a good time to use a humorous ending – again, providing it is appropriate for the occasion.
Here are some more tips to help you go out with a bang! Tie your closing statements in with your opening statements bring them back to the beginning, perhaps referring to the first humorous story or quote you shared maybe you have more to add to it that will result in bigger laughs.
You can whet their appetite at the beginning by starting to tell a story and leave the rest of the story and the punchline for your ending
Depending on the topic of your speech and your chosen title, you can incorporate the title into your closing words. The title should summarize your topic in a memorable, catchy manner, so using it again at the end should help reinforce what you have spoken about.
Use a humorous or meaningful quotation from somebody famous that relates to your message and inspires your audience to take action.
You can signal the end is near using your props; if you were using any. If you're wearing a hat, you can tip your hat; if you're walking around with a hand held mike you can replace it in the microphone stand; if you have a book or file of notes on a podium you can shut it;
Issue your call to action; what do you want them to do next and ask them to do it.
Involve your audience; ask them to repeat something after you; maybe it is part of a speech or a famous motivational quote. Maybe you have written a simple oath; they can stand and repeat after you.
Take the easy way out and turn the attention on the organization and the audience members themselves, congratulating them and wishing them future success; ask them to stand and applaud themselves for their achievements.
(They may not be clapping you as you leave the stage, but it's still applause, at the right moment. It will still make you feel good and look good!)
A useful technique is to have a standard closing line that becomes more like a personal signature over time and people relate to you.
Example: from the Two Ronnies, an old comedy show, the two Ronnies would finish with goodnight from me and the other one would say goodnight from him.
Red Skelton's signature closing line on his TV show became "Good night and may God bless." Johnny Carson used a visual technique: his trademark was a phantom golf swing at the end of his monologues, aimed to where the Band was sitting.
If some of your audience members have tuned out during your speech, you must use your ending to grab their attention.
The secret it to have everyones attention because after you have concluded, the drifters will be wondering what it was all about. They will take their clues from you, the speaker. You must tell them what is required of them.
What do they do next? What is expected of them?
Many speakers fail to achieve their desired results because they don't move their audience to action or guide them on what to do. They just let them hang there thinking, well that was good, but what was the purpose?
You can start by telling them what you are going to do next. For example, In about ten minutes you will find me at the back of the room and I can explain some of the books and CD's we have selected for you and you can ask me questions.
Then tell your audience what you expect of them next. This is known as a call to action. Just for today, for you, I have discounted the books and CD and you should take advantage of it tonight because you can't buy them for these prices anywhere else.
Have a back-up plan ready in case some of them really can take advantage of your offer immediately, but would like to. For those who would like to buy my speaker program tonight at the discounted price but can't, please see me and we'll see if we can work something out
This way you can take orders and deposits to secure the orders, which is better than nothing.
Finally, don't forget to thank your audience and the organizers; but don't let your "thank you" be the last thing you say before exiting the stage.
That's not the final words you want your audience to remember. So, in choosing your ending, what IS the point you want your audience to remember, and close with it.
Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is a humorist, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association who has appeared on over 22 television shows. He delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting and marketing to corporation and associations across America and parts of Jersey. Peter’s specialty is delivering strong content with an equally humorous side.
Just as important he can show you how to take a stale presentation & boost it with humor for optimal LAUGHS! As an information marketer he is also the creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, more articles, and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course, go to www.publicspeaklikeapro.com