9 Tips to End a Speech With a Bang
A good talk or public speech is like a good play, movie, or song.
It opens by arresting the listener’s attention, develops point by point, and then ends strongly.
The truth is, if you don’t know how to end a speech your key points may get lost.
The words you say at the beginning, and especially at the end of your talk, will be remembered longer than almost any other part of your speech.
Some of the great speeches in history have ended with powerful, stirring words that live on in memory.
How do you end a speech and get the standing ovation that you deserve?
Keep reading to discover how…
Here are 9 tips and examples for concluding a speech.
1) Plan Your Closing Remarks Word for Word
To ensure that your conclusion is as powerful as it can be, you must plan it word for word.
Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this talk?”
Your answer should involve the actions that you want your listeners to take after hearing you speak on this subject.
When you are clear about the end result you desire, it becomes much easier to design a conclusion that asks your listeners to take that action.
The best strategy for ending with a BANG is to plan your close before you plan the rest of your speech.
You then go back and design your opening so that it sets the stage for your conclusion.
The body of your talk is where you present your ideas and make your case for what you want the audience to think, remember, and do after hearing you speak.
2) Always End a Speech With a Call to Action
It is especially important to tell the audience what you want it to do as a result of hearing you speak.
A call to action is the best way to wrap up your talk with strength and power.
Listen to how Tony Robbins ends this TED talk with a call to action. He begins his close at 18:00 minutes.
He also tells a great story at the end of his speech, which we’ll discuss more in a moment…
Here is a Speech Conclusion Call to Action Example
“We have great challenges and great opportunities, and with your help, we will meet them and make this next year the best year in our history!”
Whatever you say, imagine an exclamation point at the end. As you approach the conclusion, pick up your energy and tempo.
Speak with strength and emphasis.
Drive the final point home.
Regardless of whether the audience participants agree with your or are willing to do what you ask, it should be perfectly clear to them what you are requesting.
3) End a Speech With a Summary
There is a simple formula for any talk:
- Tell them what you are going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Then, tell them what you told them.
As you approach the end of your talk, say something like,
“Let me briefly restate these main points…”
You then list your key points, one by one, and repeat them to the audience, showing how each of them links to the other points.
Audiences appreciate a linear repetition of what they have just heard.
This makes it clear that you are coming to the end of your talk.
4) Close with a story
As you reach the end of your talk, you can say,
“Let me tell you a story that illustrates what I have been talking about…”
You then tell a brief story with a moral, and then tell the audience what the moral is.
Don’t leave it to them to figure out for themselves.
Often you can close with a story that illustrates your key points and then clearly links to the key message that you are making with your speech.
To learn more about storytelling in speaking, you can read my previous blog post “8 Public Speaking Tips to Wow Your Audience.”
Here’s a recap of these 4 tips in a video…
Keep reading for the other 5 speech conclusion techniques.
5) Make Them Laugh
You can close with humor.
You can tell a joke that loops back into your subject and repeats the lesson or main point you are making with a story that makes everyone laugh.
During my talks on planning and persistence, I discuss the biggest enemy that we have, which is the tendency to follow the path of least resistance. I then tell this story.
Ole and Sven are out hunting in Minnesota and they shoot a deer. They begin dragging the deer back to the truck by the tail, but they keep slipping and losing both their grip and their balance.
A farmer comes along and asks them, “What are you boys doing?”
They reply, “We’re dragging the deer back to the truck.”
The farmer tells them, “You are not supposed to drag a deer by the tail. You’re supposed to drag the deer by the handles. They’re called antlers. You’re supposed to drag a deer by the antlers.”
Ole an Sven say, “Thank you very much for the idea.”
They begin pulling the deer by the antlers. After about five minutes, they are making rapid progress. Ole says to Sven, “Sven, the farmer was right. It goes a lot easier by the antlers.”
Sven replies, “Yeah, but we’re getting farther and farther from the truck.”
After the laughter dies down, I say…
“The majority of people in life are pulling the easy way, but they are getting further and further from the ‘truck’ or their real goals and objectives.”
That’s just one example of closing using humor.
6) Make It Rhyme
You can close with a poem.
There are many fine poems that contain messages that summarize the key points you want to make.
You can select a poem that is moving, dramatic, or emotional.
For years I ended seminars with the poem, “Don’t Quit,” or “Carry On!” by Robert W. Service. It was always well received by the audience.
7) Close With Inspiration
You can end a speech with something inspirational as well.
If you have given an uplifting talk, remember that hope is, and has always been, the main religion of mankind.
People love to be motivated and inspired to be or do something different and better in the future.
Remember, everyone in your audience is dealing with problems, difficulties, challenges, disappointments, setbacks, and temporary failures.
For this reason, everyone appreciates a story or poem of encouragement that gives them strength and courage.
When you tell a story or recite a poem, you must become an actor.
Here are 7 Tips to Tell an Inspiring Poem or Story to End Your Speech
- You have to slow down and add emotion and drama to your words.
- Raise your voice on a key line of the poem, and then drop it when you’re saying something that is intimate and emotional.
- Pick up the tempo occasionally as you go through the story or poem, but them slow down on the most memorable parts.
- Especially, double the number of pauses you normally use in a conversation.
- Use dramatic pauses at the end of a line to allow the audience to digest the words and catch up with you.
- Smile if the line is funny, and be serious if the line is more thought provoking or emotional.
- When you come to the end of your talk, be sure to bring your voice up on the last line, rather than letting it drop. Remember the “exclamation point” at the end.
Try practicing on this poem that I referenced above…
Read through “Carry On!” by Robert Service.
Identify the key lines, intimate parts and memorable parts, and recite it.
8) Make it Clear That You’re Done
When you say your final words, it should be clear to everyone that you have ended. There should be no ambiguity or confusion in the mind of your audience. The audience members should know that this is the end.
Many speakers just allow their talks to wind down.
They say something like, “Well, that just about covers it. Thank you.”
This isn’t a good idea…
It’s not powerful…
It’s not an authoritative ending and thus detracts from your credibility and influence.
When you have concluded, discipline yourself to stand perfectly still. Select a friendly face in the audience and look straight at that person.
If it is appropriate, smile warmly at that person to signal that your speech has come to an end.
Resist the temptation to:
- Shuffle papers.
- Fidget with your clothes or microphone.
- Move forward, backward, or sideways.
- Do anything else except stand solidly, like a tree.
Take a look at this video of how I ended a speech when I received an award from the National Speakers Association. I ended this speech exactly how I described here.
9) Let Them Applaud
When you have finished your talk, the audience members will want to applaud…
What they need from you is a clear signal that now is the time to begin clapping.
How do you signal this?
Some people will recognize sooner than others that you have concluded your remarks.
In many cases, when you make your concluding comments and stop talking, the audience members will be completely silent.
They may be unsure whether you are finished.
They may be processing your final remarks and thinking them over. They may not know what to do until someone else does something.
In a few seconds, which will often feel like several minutes, people will applaud.
Then the entire audience will begin clapping.
When someone begins to applaud, look directly at that person, smile, and mouth the words thank you.
As more and more people applaud, sweep slowly from person to person, nodding, smiling and saying, “Thank You.”
Eventually the whole room will be clapping.
BONUS TIP: How to Handle a Standing Ovation
If you have given a moving talk and really connected with your audience, someone will stand up and applaud. When this happens, encourage others by looking directly at the clapper and saying, “Thank you.”
This will often prompt other members of the audience to stand.
As people see others standing, they will stand as well, applauding the whole time.
It is not uncommon for a speaker to conclude his or her remarks, stand silently, and have the entire audience sit silently in response.
Stand Comfortably and Shake Hands
But as the speaker stands there comfortably, waiting for the audience to realize the talk is over, one by one people will begin to applaud and often stand up one by one.
If the first row of audience members is close in front of you, step or lean forward and shake that person’s hand when one of them stands up to applaud.
When you shake hands with one person in the audience, many other people in the audience feel that you are shaking their hands and congratulating them as well.
They will then stand up and applaud.
Soon the whole room will be standing and applauding.
Whether you receive a standing ovation or not, if your introducer comes back on to thank you on behalf of the audience, smile and shake their hand warmly.
If it’s appropriate, give the introducer a hug of thanks, wave in a friendly way to the audience, and then move aside and give the introducer the stage.
Follow these tips to get that standing ovation every time.
What do you think?
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.