FAQ: How Should I End My Speech?

FAQTo paraphrase Lee Iacocca, the object of every speech is to motivate, which makes the last words your audience hears from you critically important.

Here are some ways to end with a bang, not a whimper. (You’ll find more in my book, Words that Mean Success.)

Bookend. One of the classic and most effective ways to end a speech is to circle back to the beginning of the presentation at the end. President Obama does this a lot.

Do Something out of the Ordinary. Look for an unusual quote (I found one from daredevil Evel Knievel), a little known event in history, a case of strange bed fellows, etc. Use anything that makes the audience sit up and take notice. One warning: be very careful about using humor. (You’ve heard this from me before.) In particular, it is very risky to end with a joke.

T.A.P. (Talk About People). Try to end your speech by humanizing the larger point you’re making. Find an evocative story or vignette that involves an actual human being doing something. The more specific you can be (“Engineer John Smith is on the front line of the data security revolution…”) the better.

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