Helping Your Audience By Going After An Iceberg With A Shotgun

by drjim on November 9, 2010

When You're Hunting For A Good Speech Closing, Sometimes A Shotgun Is What You Need

When You’re Hunting For A Good Speech Closing, Sometimes A Shotgun Is What You Need

If how you wrap up your next speech is really the most important part of the speech, then what’s the best way to do it? The last thing in the world that you want to do is to end up leaving your audience flat – thanks for listening to me, got any questions? Instead, you need to have a collection of possible waysto close your speech that you can pick and choose from. I’ve got three for you to take a look at now: the iceberg, the shotgun, and the offer to help.

The Iceberg Closing

This type of closing is well suited to those speeches where you have a lot of interconnected detailsthat you’ve laid out for your audience. Your challenge as a speaker is to find a way to remind your audience of everything that you’ve covered while not overwhelming them.

The key to this type of closing is to group the various points that you’ve made intotwo or three main conclusions. These are what you are going to want the audience to remember. During the close you’ll present your main point (tip of the iceberg) and then you’ll present the various points that support that main point (body of the iceberg).

Now there’s no way that your audience is going to remember your multiple supporting points. However, what they will remember are your two or three main points. They will even vaguely remember that you did a good job of explainingwhy they should support these main points– but they won’t remember all of your supporting points.

The Shotgun Closing

Let’s move on to a more tricky type of speech to give. Sometimes we are faced with the challenge of delivering a speech in which there isa lot of informationthat we need to get across to our audience. Now it’s nice if this information is related to each other in some way, but all to often that is not the case.

A good example of this would be if you were introducing people to a new piece of software. There are many things that you’ll have to talk about like how you log in, what the control bar does, where your files are saved, etc. In cases like this, you’ve got a challenge on your hands –it’s going to be all to easy to overwhelm your audienceand have them walk away from your speech not remembering anything.

The shotgun closing provides you with a way to prevent this from happening. The shotgun closing starts, somewhat surprisingly, when you open your speech. The best way to do this is to give your audiencea verbal quizwith multiple questions about the facts that you want them to walk away from your speech knowing. Clearly they won’t have the answers now, but have them take the quiz anyway.

Next, you deliver your speech and in your speech you need to step through each of the questions on the quizin the same sequence that they were on your quize. Finally, as part of your closing, have your audience take the verbal quiz one more time. This combination of seeing / hearing / doing can do wonders for your audience’s ability to retain what you’ve said.

The “I’m Here To Help You” Closing

When you have a problem that you need to solve, who wouldn’t want someone to show up andoffer to help you out? That’s exactly what this closing does for your audience.

This closing once again starts with your opening. In your opening, you need toidentify the challenge that the audience is facing. Once you’ve done this, you then need to spend the body of your speech identifying the features of your product and then relate them to the goal of solving the challenge that your audience is trying to achieve.

Finally, in your closing you are going to want to take it up a level and review what your audience is trying to achieve, and then go over how your product willhelp them to achieve it.

What All Of This Means For You

The way that you choose to close your next speech is perhapsthe most important decision that you’ll make about that speech. In order to create the most powerful closing, you need to know as many different closing styles as possible.

Three powerful closing stylesinclude the iceberg, the shotgun, and the “I’m here to help” approaches. The iceberg is good for summarizing lots of related points, the shotgun is a good way to get people to remember unrelated points, and the “I’m here to help” approach works to show people how your solution relates to their issues.

As with all such things in life, there is no one solution that is right for every speech that you’ll give. Instead, you are going to have to evaluate what you’d like to communicate to your audience andpick the closing that works best for you. Good luck!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What would be the best way to deliver the quiz that is part of the shotgun closing?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Check with just about any professional speaker or pick up a book at the book store on public speaking and you’ll get some great advice. They’ll tell you exactly what you SHOULD be doing. That’s all good, but what’s been missing has been anyone talking about the other side of that coin – what should you NOT be doing?

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