www.wellsaid.com May 2014

   

 

Have you ever seen a great fireworks display? Perhaps it was on Independence Day, New Year's Eve, at a festival, or a sporting event.  If so, you not only experienced a brilliant display of light, color and sound against the night sky, you also witnessed one of the most important principles of effective presentations: End With A Bang!  According to pyrotechnic experts, despite the wide variety of devices in their arsenal--from the Roman Candle to the Strobe--all fireworks displays have one thing in common: Go all out in the grand finale. Last impressions are the most important for a fireworks show. The same is true for a presentation or speech. Why? As a presenter, your 'grand finale' is your last chance to reiterate your key points and ensure the audience remembers and responds to your message.  Please enjoy the tips below on how to end with a bang and make your message more memorable. In case you missed last month's companion article, please read, "Three Proven Openers To Capture Audience Attention" http://conta.cc/1lzZC2K

 

Thank you for your loyal readership, and best wishes for continued speaking excellence!

 

Kind regards,

    

End With A Bang! 

A Three-Step Closing 

That Makes Your Message Memorable

By Darlene Price, Well Said, Inc.

"The fireworks begin today.

Each diploma is a lighted match,

Each one of you is a fuse."

--Ed Koch (1924-2013)

 

Ed Koch, three-term mayor of New York City, knew how to inspire an audience and close a speech. He was ranked by America's leading speakers bureaus as one of the top ten most-requested speakers, especially for commencement addresses. Not only did he conclude with a compelling statement like the one above, he used the image of fireworks as a metaphor. To End With A Bang and ignite the hearts and minds of your audience, consider using this proven three-step closing in your next presentation:

 

Step 1: Deliver a strong summary.

To begin your summary, say the words, "In conclusion," or "In summary." These words signal that the presentation is coming to an end and heighten your listeners' attention level. This in turn helps them remember the crux of your message. Briefly summarize your key points and restate why the message matters to the audience. Use the tieback technique: If you opened your presentation with a question, statistic, quote, story, or photo refer back to it. This approach bookends your presentation and seamlessly connects the opening with the closing.  Consider the following summary delivered by a CEO whose company is ranked on the Global 100 Index of the World's Most Sustainable Companies. "I began this presentation by asking you a question: Do you care? Do you care about planet Earth and its ability to sustain life for future generations? In summary, let me ask you another question: How will you care? You can start by committing to the Three Rs we covered here today: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce your consumption of natural resources like water, electricity and fuel. Reuse bottles, bags, and batteries. Recycle aluminum, plastic, and newspapers. You and I coexist in this world with more than 7.2 billion people. Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends directly or indirectly on our natural environment. As a global company and as individual citizens, we must do our part. Commit to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Life depends on it."

 

Step 2: Present a call-to-action.

The purpose of presenting is to persuade. Ask yourself this question: "At the end of my presentation, what do I want my audience to do?" Do you want them to: Fund your project? Sign the order? Recommend your solution? Approve the budget?  Comply with regulations? Schedule a product demo? If so, be sure to ask them. Clearly, the CEO in the above example wants his audience to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  Similarly, in 1873 Susan B. Anthony changed history with her call to action in a speech entitled, "Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?"

"We ask the judges to render true and unprejudiced opinions of the law, and wherever there is room for a doubt to give its benefit on the side of liberty and equal rights to women."   Consider John F. Kennedy's famous call to action from his 1961 U.S. presidential inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Or Steve Jobs' call to action at the end of almost every product presentation: "It's going to change your life. Now, go out and buy one." A call to action tells the audience exactly what you want them to do, and every great persuasive speech or presentation has one. At the end of your next presentation, what do you want your audience to do?

 

Step 3: Conclude with a powerful closing statement.

In a nutshell, what's the key take-away of your speech or presentation? In a short phrase, say last what you want the audience to remember most. In his sustainability speech, the CEO ended with, "Life depends on it."  In 1775, Patrick Henry convinced legislators to deliver the necessary troops to the American Revolutionary War with his final words, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" In fact, many of history's most famous quotes were originally a powerful closing statement from a well-crafted speech. 

Abraham Lincoln: "...government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." 

Winston Churchill: "Let men still say, 'This was their finest hour.'" 

Martin Luther King: "Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" 

Indira Gandhi"While there is bondage anywhere, we ourselves cannot be free." 

Mother Teresa: "Put your love for the poor in living action, for in loving them, you are loving God."

In closing, have you ever heard a speaker end an otherwise effective presentation with an abrupt "Thank you," or worse, an anti-climatic statement such as, "That's it. Any questions?" or "I'm done." For the audience, it's like a firework with a wet fuse, otherwise known as a 'dud.' On the contrary, go all out! Your 'grand finale' is your last chance to reinforce your key points, ensure the memorability of your message, and motivate your audience to action. Craft an effective three-part closing: deliver a strong summary; present a call-to-action; and conclude with a powerful closing statement. You'll light up the hearts and minds of your listeners and End With A Bang!

If you would like to discover additional closing techniques and learn more about effective presentation skills, please read my book, Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover and Kindle). 

http://www.amazon.com/Well-Said-Presentations-Conversations-Results/dp/0814417876

Or contact me directly to schedule a training session for you and your team. I would be honored to support your speaking success!

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