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Speakers: Open and Close . . .

Updated: Apr 5


Open and Close

Strong and STRONGER!

The Law of Primacy and Recency says your audience will best remember the first and last things you say and do.


This is why Q&A, if you have it in your talk, should be before your Closing. In your Opening, give the Menu of your talk. Letting the audience know when you’ll be taking questions:

  1. Eliminates interrupting questions that can disrupt your planned talk.

  2. Keeps your presentation on schedule.

  3. Tells the audience when you will Close.


Your LAST WORDS (Open) will probably be the FIRST WORDS (Close) Your Audience will Remember!

The Closing has two parts.

  1. Review the highlights of your talk.

  2. Close Strongly!

Get a FREE Interactive Infograph of a Speaker’s Template CLICK HERE.


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

It’s great if your closing has a surprise in it, but not if your closing is the surprise!


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


Or, Have you ever been enjoying a movie and unexpectedly, there’s an underwhelming ending and the credits start rolling? Your thoughts are that you’ve missed something and possibly wasted your time, right?


Don’t do those things to your audience. Give them a ‘sign’ it is time to close the speech.


Here are some ways to tell them:

“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,  . . .”


Memorize and practice, practice, practice your opening and closing! Rehearse so it becomes second nature to you.


Always keep in mind: Though you might have Closed this way many times, it is the first time this audience will hear it.

Don’t lose the enthusiasm and emotion you had when delivering it the first time.


Consider:

Courtroom summations by attorneys will probably be the words most remembered by jurors as they head to deliberating a verdict.


In political debates, the closing statements of the candidates can, and often do, carry a disproportionate amount of influence to voters than most of what took place in the debates.


Your Closing must be strong and compelling. You’re going for a ‘Knock Out!’ It is what the audience will probably remember most, and your last opportunity to make a lasting impression. You want them saying, “Yes!” and “Wow” and rising to their feet applauding!


Saying, ‘Thank you!’ to an audience is not a closing. It lets them down. They fell cheated. This is especially true if your presentation was good. If you’ve heard speakers close like that, it’s terrible, isn’t it!


When your presentation is concluded, the audience, if you’ve done your job correctly, should be ‘thanking you!’


Your Closing can take several forms, and should always be relevant to your talk.

It can be a ’Call to Action’, such as when John F. Kennedy began the closing of his inaugural speech with, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”


Another way to close is to ’Challenge’ your audience.

If you’ve been speaking on physical fitness and state that the importance of exercise is losing weight and lowering cholesterol, say, “Right here, right now – Everyone who thinks following the ‘5 Steps to a Better You’ program could make major changes in your health and self-esteem – get on your feet – raise your right hand – and repeat after me, ‘I . . . ”


Other Closing Techniques:

•  If you used Humor during your speech, and if it’s appropriate to the message and audience, using humor to close can work well. People like to feel good, right? If your presentation leaves them smiling and laughing, it’s a good thing!


If, on the other hand, the message was serious and thought-provoking, a closing that ends with a Quotation or “Pulling-at-the heart-strings” story that succinctly summarizes your message, will be very effective.

Example: “Steve Jobs would not have gone on to continue to lead Apple had it not for the generosity of a family who lost a loved one in an auto accident. If you haven’t signed an organ donor card, I hope you’ll now consider ‘the gift of life.’”


•  Another closing technique is to Completely Switch Delivery Styles at the end. A quiet, solemn closing, in contrast to a speech that was high-energy and full of humor, will be the kind of “pattern interrupt” that will make the most impact as you leave the lectern. It wasn’t what they were expecting, and, if done well, will leave the audience thinking about your message. Example: “We’ve had a lot of fun today talking about ways to conserve energy and alternative sources of  energy. These are subjects many of us, literally, get ‘energized’ just thinking about. And that’s great!


But think, please, as you leave today: What happens if all we do about this subject is get excited about it, talk about it and don’t take action. What happens then?”


•  Sometimes, Tying the Closing to the Opening can be effective. If it’s a story you ‘haven’t quite finished’ in the body of your speech, now is the time to WOW the audience with the conclusion of that story.

Example: “And that little girl I mentioned at the beginning of my talk; the one who didn’t speak till she was two, and was judged to be ‘un-educable by more than one of her grade school teachers. Well, let me bring you up to date on what the special auditory software program helped her accomplish: Madeline just delivered the valedictorian speech at Yale!”


•  Using the Title of your speech in the Closing can have a dramatic effect on the audience.

Example: If title of your presentation was, “What’s Holding You Back?”  then an appropriate ending statement could easily be, “So, let me end my talk the way I  began it, and ask the same question, “What’s Holding You Back?”


Use these suggestions to Close your presentations and they will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!

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Pausing is a key component of presenting.

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!”


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