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Opening and Closing Your Speech

Have a Strong Opening and STRONGER Closing!

The research shows your audience will best remember the first and last things you say and do. It’s called the Law of Primacy and Recency and is crucial for the goal of having your audience GET IT!

GETTING IT! is the goal of all communication; verbal, written, or visual. The audience may not agree with everything you present. They may not agree with anything. Having said that, if they don’t GET IT! there cannot be a conversation going forward.

A Strong Opening and Stronger Closing are critical!

Your Introduction has set the stage for what’s next – you, the presenter! The audience knows your expertise and is excited to see and hear you.

Your Opening has two parts. 1.  It should grab the attention of the audience and make them want to hear more. They are investing time, sometimes money, and opportunity cost (they could be doing something else.) 2.  The next part is where you “tell them what you’ll be telling them.” Give them your agenda.

Opening Example from one of my talks: Raising my hand high, because more hands go up when the speaker leads with this gesture, I ask. “Who believes ‘Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities?'”      •  That gesture and question immediately engages the audience.

I continue: •  “I’m going to talk about the Components, Parts, and Elements of a presentation and give examples. •  Next I’ll speak about the Fear of Public Speaking. Why we have it and I’ll give Nuggets to lessen it. •  I’ve got time set aside for Questions.           •  Taking questions before your closing is usually best. •  Finally, I’ll close my Presentation.

A few ideas for your Opening:

  1. Famous Quote The quote, and person quoted, should be relevant to your presentation.

  2. Example: Abraham Lincoln once said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” “What are you waiting for?”

  3. Today in History The historical event should be factual and relevant to your subject matter.

  4. There are a number of excellent websites that provide this information, including events and the births of famous people.

  5. Using a little creativity with this information can segue into your speech opening.

  6. Example: “On this day in history, November 8th, 1932, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President of the United States. Unemployment above 20% and Roosevelt promised recovery with a New Deal for the American people.”

  7. In This Morning’s Wall Street Journal (or Other Media.) A current event, if appropriate, can be part of the opening to your speech.

  8. If print media, like a magazine or newspaper, the item can be used as a prop and held up to the audience as you speak.

  9. Example: “I noticed in this morning’s paper, in spite of dire predictions for the market if Donald Trump won the election, the market was up!”

  10. Suspense / Surprise Build suspense with the audience. Then surprise them with a contrary statement.

  11. Example: “In preparing for this presentation over a two week period of time, I personally took over 200 pictures, picked the 15 best ones, cropped and edited them to get the exact content I needed to make my points today, loaded them into a power point presentation – and my hard drive promptly crashed!”

  12. Use a Physical Prop or a Visual or Audio Effect This will get the attention of the audience.

  13. Your opening statement should tie directly to what the audience just experienced.

  14. Example: The shrill of the siren of an ambulance or blare of an air horn from a fire engine can be an effective way to open a speech on safety, as in, “Hear that sound?  An accident occurred, and someone’s life has changed – forever!”

The Last thing you say and do will be the First thing they’ll remember!

Your Closing has two parts. 1.  “Tell them what you told them.” Summarize the highlights of your talk. 2.  Give a Strong Closing!

Summarizing Example from one of my talks: “Before I close, let’s review what we discussed. We said a Presentation has Two Components; Content and Delivery. Delivery trumps Content.

On the Delivery side, there are Two Parts: Verbal and Non-Verbal with Non-Verbal trumping Verbal, “We believe what we see!”

We also talked about the Fear of Public Speaking; Why we have it and gave Nuggets to Lessen it.”

Before closing, tell the audience you are about to close your speech.

It’s okay if your closing contains a surprise – but not if your closing is the surprise!

Here’s an analogy. You’re on a trip and have been leisurely driving down the road for a while. There’s a large, wide bend in the road and as you drive it and the road starts to straighten out, suddenly, and with no signs to warn you, there’s a dead end!

Don’t do that to your audience. Give them that ‘sign’ you’re about to close your presentation.

Some ways to tell them you’re about to conclude your talk: •  “It’s time to bring this presentation to a close.” •  “I’m going to close my presentation with a . . .” •  “Let me close my talk by . . .” •  “My watch says it’s time to close. So. . .”

The Closing should be something you want them to remember. (Think of courtroom summations and closing statements by political candidates.)

Closing Example from one of my talks: “I’m going to close with a Challenge and a Prediction.

Here’s my challenge, and it’s addressed to each of you: The next time someone gives you a ‘Speaking Opportunity’. . . Let me change that: Find a ‘Speaking Opportunity!’ Seek it out! Find where you work, your trade association, a civic organization – anywhere you can! Then, grab it! Next: Prepare – Practice – and Deliver that presentation using all the Components, Parts, and Elements of ‘NO SWEAT Public Speaking!’

Do that, and my prediction is this: Your next presentation will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!”

Other ideas for your Closing:

  1. Call to Action.

  2. “Today, as soon as you get back to your office, start writing your Introduction!

  3. A Challenge.

  4. “We’ll be meeting again one week from today.  I challenge each of you to have an Introduction that answers the three questions every Introduction should addres

  5. Why this Subject?

  6. Why this Speaker?

  7. Why Now?

  8. A Motivational Quote.

  9. Remember as you leave the auditorium, “The worst speech you’ll ever give, will be far better than the one you never give!

Follow this advice about having a Strong Opening and a Stronger Closing and I guarantee: Your next presentation will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!

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Three ways to keep the attention of your audience.

About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!

Services:

Topics:


  1. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  2. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  3. We are All Self-Employed!

Subscribe to my YouTube ChannelPodcast Channel, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

My books can be purchased on amazon.com. NO SWEAT Public Speaking” NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

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