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QuickBite: How to Craft Compelling Conclusions

“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:

  • Do X each morning for the next 14 days, and you’ll finally see the results you’ve been striving to achieve.
  • Are you ready to take things to the next level? Then I challenge you to do X!


The second option is asking a question
By asking an open-ended question, you move your audience members to answer it for themselves.

  • What are you going to do to make this happen?
  • How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?
  • What’s your greatest takeaway from our time together?”


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.

  • Implementing the ideas you’ve just heard or maintaining the status quo is a choice … your choice! Which are you going to choose?
  • Make no mistake about it. You can choose (A) or opt for (B), but ultimately, you must make a choice!


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.

  • Imagine XYZ!
  • How successful will you be when …?
  • Picture this!


Now, let’s take a look at ways not to conclude. The following are weak, meaningless ways to end your presentations.

  • My time’s up. (Does that mean if your time wasn’t up there would be more we should know?
  • Thanks for listening. (This is polite but not compelling.)
  • I want to thank … (Again, polite but not compelling.)
  • I hope this helps. (You should be confident that your presentation did help.)
  • That concludes my talk. (As useless as the words “The End” at the end of a movie.)


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?