Why Your Speech’s Ending Doesn’t Work And What To Do About It

by drjim on November 2, 2010

You don't want to lead your audience to a dead ending…

You don’t want to lead your audience to a dead ending…

Quiz time: what’s the most important part of your next speech? The opening? The points that you make in the middle to support your position or idea? Nope,it’s the close. The last few words out of your mouth are the ones that will have the greatest impact on your audience. Since this is true, why are you doing such a poor job with your speech endings?

Where We Are Going Wrong

I’m no different than anyone else – left to my own devices, I’ll start writing a speechfrom the opening to the close. It turns out that this is exactly the wrong way to go about writing a speech.

What you really want to be doing is to start bywriting out your speech’s closing. Look, your closing isn’t going to be all that long and so it sure seems as though you should make each word count. By writing it out you’ll be able to craft and polish exactly what you’ll end up saying.

An additional benefit of starting with the end is that once you’ve nailed downjust exactly what your main point is, it makes writing the rest of the speech that much easier. You’ll be able to prevent yourself from going off-track because you’ll know where you want to leave your audience when your speech is done.

The “Solution Found” Ending

In the world of music, there are certain forms of music that get repeated in many different songs. The songs are all different; however, if you’ve studied music then you are able to pick out which form the song is using.

In the world of public speaking it’s exactly the same. There are a set of speech closing”forms”that get used over and over again. You need to pick the one that works the best with the speech that you are giving.

One of the classic forms is called the “solution found” ending. This type of ending is closely tied to both the opening and the body of your speech. When used correctly it can work as a powerful tool for convincing your audience.

The solution found ending requires that you start your speech by explaining to your audience what the characteristics of a good solution to their problem are. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about world hunger or how to clean your carpets, it’s the same idea.

In the body of your speech you are going to want to explain the features that your product or idea has. This is where you show the audience why it’s such a great product / idea.

In the closing part of your speech you now relate your product’s / idea’s features to the characteristics that make up an ideal solution to their problem. It’s this mapping of your product / idea to what you framed as being the perfect solution that will convince the audience to choose your solution.

The Funnel Effect

A different classic speech closing technique is called”the funnel effect”. This method is best used when you are giving a speech that has many different points in it.

The problem with giving a speech that contains a lot of information is that your audience is going to struggle with trying to identify just exactly what they need to remember when the speech is over. As the speaker, you can help them out by picking out the two or three key points that you want to remember as they walk away.

The net effect of this is that you create a “funnel” for your speech. The body has many key points while the closing has only a few –the most important ones.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we all want the same thing:to change the world. If we are going to be successful at this then we’re going to have to make sure that our audience remembers our speech once we’re done talking.

It’s the closing of our speech that is the most important. In order to make it easy for our audience to remember what we’ve said, we can use some of the classic forms that have been created in order to design powerful speech closings.

Two of the   classic closing forms are “solution found” and “the funnel effect”. Both of these forms allow you to start creating a speech with a clear ending in mind.

It is the responsibility of the speaker to make it easy for our audiences to remember the main point of our speech. By creating a great closing, you will have ensured that you are a successful speaker!

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

Question For You: How many points do you think that you can pack into a closing and still have your audience remember them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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.

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