“A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start one, but it requires considerable skill to end it.” – Anonymous
That quote is a favorite of mine because it’s both catchy and on target.
All too often people let their otherwise engaging presentations come to an unexciting and uninspiring end. Why is this so prevalent? Because many speakers either give little thought about how they are going to deliver a compelling conclusion or simply don’t know how to.
Without a doubt, the conclusion is the most crucial part of your talk. When you miss the mark, you undermine everything you just did, leaving the audience underwhelmed, confused, or disappointed.
But when you nail it … when you finish in a way that brings all that you talked about to a fitting and compelling conclusion. It’s like an explosion at the end of the fuse that’s been burning throughout your talk.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you construct a compelling conclusion? You have several options to choose from. For any particular talk and audience, there may be one obvious choice.
For others, there might be a number of ways to end in a meaningful fashion. When this is the case, you might want to try each of them and determine which will best serve your audience.
One option is a call to action
By the time you get to the end of your presentation, your audience members have listened to quite a bit of information. And, they may not realize that they should take action. So, you need to direct them to do so by saying something like:
The second option is asking a question
By asking an open-ended question, you move your audience members to answer it for themselves.
The third option is to provide a choice
Showing your audience members that they have a choice of options is a powerful way to get them thinking about what they’re going to do.
The fourth option is vision
Sometimes, we need to help people see what could be, and once they can envision it, you’ve helped them move forward.
Now, let’s take a look at ways not to conclude. The following are weak, meaningless ways to end your presentations.
Instead, end your presentation with the compelling conclusion you had selected and rehearsed. Once you’ve delivered it, wait four beats, and with confidence and modesty say … thank you.
Remember … you have a choice. You can let your presentations peter out with insignificant endings, or you can make a difference in the minds and lives of your audiences, by delivering compelling conclusions. Which will you choose?
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