How Not to Close a Speech

How Not to Close a Speech

Ever wondered how to close a speech? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Closing your speech with confidence, vigor and enthusiasm can mean the difference between a powerful impression or the lack there of. Many speeches fall flat due to their final lackluster close. Just like a speech intro cements the perception of the speaker (and her message) in the minds of the audience, so does the closing. Herein, we’ll explore a few examples of what not to do in our first part of our series of how to close a speech. Some of the common mistakes novice speakers make are the following:

Lackluster ‘Thank You’

Many novice public speakers will power through their speech and deliver successfully only fizzle out at end with a lack luster and hackneyed closing statement. This is the verbal equivalent of get all the way to the pinnacle and walk away from it. They deliver a lack luster ‘Thank You’ in near monotone, rather than a powerful closing statement, call to action or an engaging story. It’s fine to say ‘thank you’ but it shouldn’t be your final words. Closing in this way does a disservice to our speech and message and should be avoided.

Q&A Fail

Question and answer sessions are sometimes erroneously relegated to the end of a speech. This is problematic on multiple levels. Q&A at the end of a speech leads to a less than successful closure to what otherwise would be a successful speech. When we close with Q&A, we don’t focus the audiences attention on our call to action or main point. We don’t get to make statements about what we want them to understand from our speech. Instead, we meander through the waters of the subject we are presenting, without a key objective being verbalized. Instead, Q&A should be done throughout the speech as its a perfect opportunity to engage the audience and still allow us to have a powerful closing.

Missing a Call to Action

Every speech has a critical point which the audience should be able to grasp with minimal effort. This call to action should be a the takeaway, message or idea from your speech that your audience will gain. In fact, it should be so clear that if asked these audience members a year later they would remember it. If we don’t make this call to action clear, we leave our audience with doubts or confusion over our message and intent.

Failure to Plan/Prepare

Our closing, (just like our opening) is a critical element to a successful speech. It is among the parts of a speech where we should prepare our content carefully and practice it. A closing isn’t something we should ‘wing it’ or do without preparation. It’s something we should sit down, think through, write out, edit and rehearse in front of a recording device (smartphone, webcam, etc.). If there are any parts of our speech that we must practice it is our opening and our closing. Most novice speakers attempt to ‘wing it’ and are perplexed when it doesn’t get the audience reception they expect. Instead, plan for success and you’ll leave your audience in awe.

No Clear Ending

Many beginning speakers make the mistake of not making it crystal clear they have even ended their speech. When they do come to the end of their speech they don’t show it in body language, their voice or indicate it in their message. They leave the audience wondering if its a conclusion or if they are continuing on to a new topic. Don’t leave your audience wondering or confused. Instead be clear with your message, purposeful in your delivery and leave them with a communication that will resonate and be memorable.

After more than 15 years and 10’s of thousands of happy student – we’ve seen it all. We hope this short post will help you improve your closings. Hopefully these few examples (of the many) will get you thinking and planning for successful closings. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back from the success you so deserve. You should own your own voice, message and the stage. If you avoid these mistakes you’ll have better closings and speaking outcomes. As always, please leave comments and questions below or contact us directly. You got this, now own the stage and close powerfully and persuasively!

Joseph Guarino is a professional public speaker, trainer and owner of the Institute of Public Speaking a Boston based international public speaking & leadership training organization. As a seasoned public speaking trainer & professional speaker he enjoys helping other succeed in this worthy and rewarding craft. The Institute of Public Speaking offers a variety of public speaking courses for individuals (1 on 1 training), executive speech coaching, one day public speaking bootcamps, advanced public speaking bootcamps and public speaking seminars for corporations & groups of any size.
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