Ending A Speech or Presentation, Pt. II

By Matt Eventoff

Whether taking a company public, introducing a new product to market, delivering a new lecture or simply leading a team meeting, the conclusion is crucial to the success of any presentation.  It is the final impression to you will leave your audience with.  Last week we went over three ways to effectively end a speech. So what are other effective ways to close a speech or presentation?  Here are three more  of my favorites:

1. Vision - Illustrate a vision of what your call to action will result in.  Dr. Martin Luther King illustrated this with the final words of his epic “I Have a Dream” speech:

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

2. (Very) Short Story/Anecdote - Based on the principle of show, don’t tell:  Use a very brief story or anecdote to drive a message.  I had a Major League Baseball player as a client, and he very effectively told the following (abridged) story to end a presentation about teamwork: 

So Coach entered the locker-room after a pretty tough game where a number of us had standout performances and the result was….a big loss.  One of our players went four for four – Coach called him by his last name, Smith, asked him to come up front, and then asked him to stand with the back of his uniform facing the rest of the players.  .  Then he asked a kid who had just been called up from the minors, Jones, to do the same thing.  He then said “Smith, Jones I want you to turn around.”  When they did, he pointed to the front of the uniform and reminded us all – “You play for the name on the front of the jersey (the team) not the name on the back (your own).”

3. Contrast – One of my favorites, and is even more effective when tied directly in to the call to action.  “We can have____, or we can have ______.  The choice is ours, and is based entirely on the decision we each individually make today.  _____.  Or _____. ( I know I’m choosing _____.)”

If you missed Part I., please find it here.

These are just a few examples – there are a number of effective endings (challenges,  and techniques to set up those endings that I will go over in future posts.  If you are working on a presentation and need help with an ending, contact me here.

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