Ending the Speech
What is my intention (speech purpose)? If you write the conclusion first you’ll get hints for creating a great opening. All that’s left is listing three main points and their support.
What are we trying to accomplish with a vibrant, actionable close? It’s a call to action; simple and concrete that they can do it now – or tomorrow for sure. It should be focused on the audience, not the speaker.
(Did you know that, of 217 “best speeches in history,” only seven included the words “thank you?”*)
“The closing’s function is to accent your purpose and leave the audience with something to remember. The closing is the climax, the whip-cracker, clincher, result-getter. It must tie in with the opening thought. Never leave your audience in doubt (about your speech’s purpose). “
That’s the what. How includes many options:
1 End With a Summary
“We’ve seen that everyone should have a dog because, first (first main point). We also know that (second main point). And it’s clear that (third main point). Everyone should have a dog, there’s no doubt about it.”
2 The Circular Close:
Refer back to your opening. “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them.” This advice for sermons ensures that your message is clear. It ties the speech together, too.
3 The Challenging Close:
“We can do it if we work together. Together, we can do it. The only question is ‘will we do it?” Together, let’s get it done.
4 The Invitation Close:
“The need is there, the children are waiting for our help. I urge you to help. Join me today so that we can help those who need our help. Walk with me, and work with me. The children are waiting for us.”
5 The Quotation Close:
President Kennedy once said “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Now is the time for us to answer that question.
- The Repetitive Close:
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills . . .”
*William Safire’s anthology, Lend Me your Ears: Great Speeches in History