New speakers make the mistake of focusing all their creative efforts on the body of their talk, and maybe the opening. But guess what? The 'close' is just as important as the 'opening' of your talk.

In fact, your audience may remember you more from your close than from your opening. If you think about it, the close is probably even more important than the opening.

If your opening wasn't the huge success you'd hoped for, you have the rest of your talk and your close to remedy the situation.

Think of your close as your last chance to make an impression. And while you're working on creating the perfect close for your talk, realize that it is still possible to ruin your entire presentation by making this one little mistake… not knowing when to stop.

Many a well planned 'close' has been ruined by a speaker who never knew when to shut up.

Like a CD playing with a loop, they go on and on and on and on. It’s as if they love the sound of their own voice. Naturally, they haven't noticed people yawning in the audience. That’s because they're too busy admiring how clever they are and how exhilarating their talk must be.

That being said, one of the worst things you can do as a speaker is talk for too long.

There comes a point in every great speech where thrilling and informative commentary turns into Charlie Brown’s teacher going “Blah-blah-blah” as people start to get bored and tune out.

They start to day dream about the trip home, dinner, their workload at the office tomorrow, their cat or their children or anything other than your talk.

You see, the sad truth is it doesn't matter if your talk was the most amazing, amusing, informative speech in the history of amazing, amusing, informative speeches if you leave your audience thinking

"Good grief! When is he ever going to finish?"

When they leave, instead of remembering how brilliant and witty you were or how poignant and wise your talk was… they'll leave remembering how you rambled on and on and on, never knowing when to quit. Rather than remembering you as entertaining… they'll remember you as annoying.

Then the next time your name pops up as a speaker, they won't look forward to your presentation with enthusiasm, they'll be thinking, oh, no, not him again, and maybe make other plans that don't include listening to you! Word spreads. Who needs that kind of word of mouth referral!?

So do know when to stop… but before you stop, make sure you leave them with a brilliant 'close' – something they will remember and talk positively about when they do leave.

Another truth is that the very last words you utter may well be the most remembered part of your presentation, and for this reason, you must really put some thought into the close.

It isn't enough to have a great start and a brilliant middle and then taper off to a dull or awkward finish. Think about your close, and there is more than one way to close – what way would be most effective with your presentation and topic?

Your close doesn't have to be humorous or even witty.

Depending on your topic, your close could be something inspirational or motivational, or even deep and meaningful.

1. You might move your audience from wiping tears of mirth from their eyes to wiping tears of heartfelt emotion from their eyes and moving their hands to their wallets to buy something or donate something.

2. Your close might reflect upon and summarize your presentation. Your close might be a combination of all these things… but one thing it should not be is too long or boring.

3. Remember, your parting words are most likely to have the most impact on your audience when they leave.

How do you want them to remember you and your talk? Being a comedian and humorist, naturally, I have a tendency to prefer closings that include humor.

That's just me. That's my style. Although, of course I pick my moments and subjects. Common sense must prevail at all times. However, when it is appropriate, I find closing with humor leaves a lasting and positive impression on my audience.

Actually, I am not the only speaker who uses humor who has found this to be true, which is probably why this is a popular speaking technique.

There are a couple of good reasons for this. The obvious one is an audience that you leave feeling good, laughing and applauding wildly while you take your bow, is an audience who is going to take those 'feel good' memories home with them, and talk about them with others.

This happy and rewarded audience is going to give you great feedback and help build your successful career. The other reason is I, like many other humorous speakers, or any entertainers for that matter, simply feel better leaving the stage amid laughter and enthusiastic applause. (As apposed to morose silence or the sound of polite clapping echoing around the walls.)

Remember: An enthusiastic ending signals success.

And apart from those topics that do not lend themselves to humor, a humorous ending is a great 'high' for everyone. It's the perfect way to leave your audience feeling great.

Of course, it depends on the theme of your talk. Sometimes you want to leave your audience in a more sober, thoughtful state, especially if the subject matter is of a serious nature, in which case, any humor in the closing might be misunderstood and not appreciated.

Maybe then you could close with an appropriate anecdote, or a famous quotation to suit the mood and topic. In the words of that great dead philosopher…

You can even mix and match your presentation for a greater audience impact.

You can engross your audience in your talk using humor, having them eating out of your hand all the way, listening to your every word and laughing in all the right places, and then right at the end, finish on a sober, more serious note.

This contrast is a popular technique used to great advantage by speakers who want to engage their audience and entertain them, (but who have a serious agenda.)

It's as if you're saying, it's okay to have fun while we talk about this, and I'm here to inform and entertain, but at the end of the day, the reality is this. You gave a very serious talk and I want you to think carefully about it and respond appropriately.

An example might be doing a talk that is aimed at those from whom your sponsors wish to receive donations for a good cause, such as building a new wing for the children's hospital.

Speaking of which, don't forget closings are also a perfect time to ask your audience to take action, that is, if you haven't already asked them to do so at some point during your talk.

Whether you are asking for donations or you sell back of room product, maybe you might mention it earlier on in your talk, and then in the close is your opportunity to remind them… move them to take action… now!

Author's Bio: 

Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is a humorist, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association. 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 and for more cool articles like this one, go to -- while there sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public speaking E-course!