Delivering a speech can be an exhilarating experience. You push through the butterflies, the hand trembling and throat lumps, all the way to the moment where you realize, “OMG, I’m actually almost done!”
This is the moment where the REAL challenge begins. The closing is what you will leave them with. These are the last words they’ll hear you say before you walk off the stage. When you aren’t there any longer, there is a solid chance these are going to be the words they’ll remember…or not.
Why do so many speakers BLOW this final moment of stage time? Speakers can spend, on average, 40 to 60 hours crafting a one-hour speech. Maybe you can’t relate to speakers who give keynotes. But, you can relate to a presenter who gives a presentation or a training to a corporate audience. In this case, a 30-minute presentation can take two weeks or more to prepare from scratch. Most speakers, presenters or trainers are putting in a LOT of prep time.
And yet, a great number of presentations and talks land FLAT! Why?
It’s because many presenters and speakers make one common error. They don’t begin with their end. The date for the presentation is approaching and they begin writing and researching. They find all the great information and data. Their speeches are laced with anecdotes, alliterations and, acronyms. They employ great speech openers like:
– Questions (see a list of great openers here)
– A riveting story
– A shocking statement
– A quote
– A physical object or visual
But, the close is an afterthought. Imagine yourself hopping into a car, taking a scenic trip and then being disappointed when you reach your destination. This is the experience when a speaker takes the audience on a journey and flubs the landing.
In order to craft a great speech, think about the destination.
Where do you want your audience to end up?
What do you want them to do?
What action do you want them to take?
How do you want them to feel?
You grabbed their attention at the beginning and now you want to do the same at the end. This can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be.
An easy way to close powerfully is using what I call the duplication technique or the full circle technique. You execute this by duplicating your intro hook and filling the gap.
Let’s say you asked your audience at the beginning, “What would it be like if you could travel back in time to correct any error in your life?”
Your close could be, “So, what WOULD it be like if you could travel back in time to correct any error in your life? It would be AMAZING! And here’s the good news. You don’t have to go back in time. You can make the 3 simple shifts we mentioned today to avoid critical errors. So, be INTENTIONAL, be INFLUENTIAL and most of all, be INCREDIBLE!”
Give a slight head nod, step back and wait for applause, then leave.
You’ve taken your audience a journey and you are reconnecting them with where the experience began. You are psychologically reminding them of the emotional starting point. And now you are redirecting them to the answer and the action.
Let’s say you began with a story about Jeff. You shared how Jeff began with no knowledge of computers and now, through persistence, has his own IT company.
In your close, you might say, “Jeff was at a point where he was discouraged before he was able to right the ship. Sometimes it takes being at the bottom before you can fully see what lies at the top. Today, I’ve given you 3 shortcuts Jeff never had. So, if you are dreaming about ………., then don’t wait, get in the game. If your heart keeps poking you about …… then don’t procrastinate. Decide right now that you will……. And if you look around and just KNOW you have more to GIVE to the world, then I invite you to……”
Most of all, don’t lose your mojo! Bring the same spark you had in the beginning. Re-ignite the fire and help your audience get excited about ACTION!
Start your speech at the END!