Ending Memorably

… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

TheEndConcept description

Ending a speech or presentation in a memorable way is an important technique in speaking to persuade.

In his article, 10 Ways to End Your Speech with a Bang(reference below), Peter Jeff says:

“Leading speakers end their speeches like the opera star – on a high note, vocally and intellectually. Just as the comedian should leave ‘em laughing, the speaker should leave ‘em thinking. Last words linger. Last words crystallize your thoughts, galvanize your message, and mobilize your audience.”

His ten ways to end a speech are:

  1. Bookend close: For a bookend speech closing, refer back to your opening anecdote or quote and say, “We have arrived, now, where we began.” (See complementary article by Andrew Dlugan on Bookending your Speech, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/bookending-speech-definition/, accessed 30 January 2016.)
  2. Challenge close: Challenge your audience to apply what you have told them in the speech.
  3. Echo close: Focus on one word in a quotation and emphasize that word to echo your final point.
  4. Repetitive close: Find a phrase and structure it in a repetitive format that strikes the cadence of a drummer, building to a crescendo ending of a motivational speech.
  5. Title close: Give your speech a provocative title that encapsulates your message memorably.
  6. Sing song close: Ask the audience to repeat a phrase that you used several times in your speech.
  7. Callback close: Refer back to a story you told where some activity was not fully completed.
  8. Movie close: Make a reference to a well-known movie or book.
  9. Quotation close: Use a famous quotation to harness the audience’s attention, much like turning on a spotlight.
  10. Third party close: Use the premise of a quotation to frame your finale so that it serves as a launching pad to lift your message high for the audience to more fully appreciate.

Matt Eventoff starts his article on 5 Great Ways to End a Speech (reference below) with:

“The moment of truth has arrived. You had them at the open. The audience was clearly focused, nodding as you delivered your message. Eyes locked as you wove through a carefully crafted medley of stories, anecdotes and analogies, all supporting your message. The majority of your audience agrees with your remarks. The time has come to conclude, at which point you exclaim: “In conclusion, I appreciate your time. Thank you!” And then nothing happens.  Everyone quietly claps, or just nods, and leaves the auditorium or conference room. What can you do to prevent such a muted response?”

Eventoff offers five techniques for closing a speech or presentation:

  1. Direct call to action. A speech or presentation without a clear call to action is a speech or presentation that probably isn’t worth giving.
  2. (Very) short story or anecdote. Show, don’t tell. Use a brief story or anecdote to drive a message.
  3. Call-to-question. It is often effective to end with a rhetorical question that captures the message and leaves the audience thinking – especially one that directly ties in a call to action. “What choice will you make when you leave here today? Will you X, or will you go about your normal routine?”
  4. Contrast. This is even more effective when tied directly to the closing call to action: “We can have X, or we can have Y. The choice is ours, and is based entirely on the decision we each individually make today. X or Y. (I know I’m choosing X.)”
  5. Quote. Short, appropriate, powerful quotes are effective as openers, and short, appropriate, powerful quotes are effective for closing.
How not to end a speech

Susan, at Write-out-Loud.com (reference below), says the old cliché “failing to plan is planning to fail” can bite and its teeth are sharp. She lists seven traps:

  1. having no conclusion and whimpering out on a weak “That’s all” type of line
  2. not timing the speech and running out of it before giving your prepared conclusion
  3. ending with an apology undermining your credibility – “Sorry for going on so long. I know it can be a bit boring listening to someone like me.”
  4. adding new material just as you finish which confuses your audience. That belonged in the body of your speech.
  5. making the ending too long in comparison to the rest of your speech
  6. using a different style or tone that doesn’t fit with what went before it
  7. ending abruptly without preparing the audience for the conclusion. You need a transition or bridge to have them follow you comfortably.

Brian Tracy, 4 Ways to End a Speech with a Bang, 4-minute video, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EucZKuqaVEE, accessed 30 January 2016.

Arvee Robinson, End Your Speech with a Bang, 1-minute video, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8mFdxP3ZUg, accessed 30 January 2016.

Leslie Ungar, Effective ways to end a speech, 2.3-minute video, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbBzhNmIZRw, accessed 30 January 2016.


Drawn from Peter Jeff, 2009, 10 Ways to End Your Speech with a Bang, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-ways-to-end-your-speech/, accessed 30 January 2016; Matt Eventoff, 2011, 5 Great Ways to End a Speech, at http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/44145.aspx, accessed 30 January 2016; Write-Out-Loud.com, How to End a Speech Memorably, at http://www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-end-a-speech.html, accessed 24 January 2016.

Normed topic and synthetic course with which the concept is primarily associated

This concept is primarily associated with the core normed topic Speaking to Persuade and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 30 January 2016.

Image: Father of the Bride Speeches, at http://wedd123.com/images/Father-Of-The-Bride-Speeches-Ireland-Samples-974.jpg, accessed 30 January 2016