Impress your audience up until your final words! How? Take a look at these tips! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
“My time is up, so I’ll conclude my presentation here.”
“I’ll close with this video that summarizes all my points.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t had time to discuss some of the major issues here, but hopefully this has at least given you a flavor of the topic.”
Do you think these statements above will do a good job in properly ending your speech or presentation?
Sometimes they do.
However, if you want to leave a good and lasting impression on your audience, especially if your topic is purpose-driven, you may want to think of better ways to conclude your talk.
Don’t ruin your presentation’s impact with a flat and unappealing ending.
Here’s an interesting insight from one notable psychologist:
According to Daniel Kahneman in his book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” how you experience and remember a public speaking event may not always be the same.
In his words:
“How people remember an event may be very different from how they experience it. When it comes to remembering, your final experience is really important. In short, if the ending isn’t memorable, the talk itself may not be.”
What can you do to make sure you not only start strong but also end plausible in your speech or presentation?
In the book, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” author Chris Anderson recommended 4 ways to end your talk with power:
- Camera Pull-Back
Let’s say you spent your entire talk discussing a particular piece of work. At the end of your presentation, why not show your audience a bigger picture or a broader set of possibilities connected to your topic?
It’s like you’re zooming out your camera so listeners will understand and see how the subject you talked about connects to a bigger purpose.
In 2015, this was how American neuroscientist David Eagleman ended his talk about the possibility of creating new senses for humans.
After talking about how the human brain could act as a pattern recognizer for interpreting new electrical signals as if they were coming from a brand new sense organ, Eagleman hinted at the endless possibilities that could come out of this discovery.
“Just imagine an astronaut being able to feel the overall health of the International Space Station, or, for that matter, having you feel the invisible states of your own health, like your blood sugar and the state of your microbiome, or having 360-degree vision or seeing in infrared or ultraviolet. So the key is this: As we move into the future, we’re going to increasingly be able to choose our own peripheral devices. We no longer have to wait for Mother Nature’s sensory gifts on her timescales, but instead, like any good parent, she’s given us the tools that we need to go out and define our own trajectory. So the question now is, how do you want to go out and experience your universe?”
By ending his talk with examples on how humans can benefit from this new ability, Eagleman was able to make his audience appreciate the topic more.
- Call To Action
If you introduced a powerful idea in your talk, one of the best ways to end is by encouraging your audience to act on that idea.
In 2012, Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy used this type of closer when she delivered a presentation about power posing.
[Power Posing: A self-improvement technique or life-hack in which people stand in a posture that they mentally associate with being powerful, in the hope of feeling and behaving more assertively.]
Before leaving the stage, she invited listeners to try power posing in their own lives and pass it on to other people.
“Give it away. Share it with people, because the people who can use it the most are the ones with no resources and no technology and no status and no power. Give it to them because they can do it in private. They need their bodies, privacy, and 2 minutes, and it can significantly change the outcomes of their lives.”
This confident call-to-action (CTA) contributed to the talk’s online success because in just 2 weeks, Cuddy’s recorded presentation gained more than 19 million views on YouTube and was translated in 52 languages!
One good thing about ending your talk with a CTA is that your audience doesn’t only gain new information, but is also encouraged to apply that knowledge in their lives.
When you succeed in convincing your listeners to take your CTA, even non-attendees of your talk will have an opportunity to experience the impacts and benefits of your message.
- Personal Commitment
It’s one thing to call on an audience to act, but sometimes, speakers score when they make a huge commitment on their own.
Here’s a good example of a “Personal Commitment” type of closer:
In 2011, American swimmer Diana Nyad delivered a TED talk in which she described her attempts to do what no one was ever able to do yet―to swim from Cuba to Florida.
That’s a 110-mile swim and would take a swimmer approximately 53 hours without stops!
Nyad tried to accomplish that goal on 3 occasions, sometimes persisting for 50 hours of constant swimming, braving dangerous currents and near-lethal jellyfish stings, but still failing.
At the end of her talk, she impressed the audience by saying:
“That ocean’s still there. The hope is still alive. I don’t want to be the crazy woman who does it for years and years and years, and tries and fails and tries and fails and tries and fails… I can swim from Cuba to Florida, and I will swim from Cuba to Florida.”
Two years later, Nyad returned to the TED stage, this time telling the audience how she had finally accomplished her goal at the age of 64.
Wow, that’s definitely an impressive story!
Making a major commitment requires sound judgment… especially if you’re going to announce it in front of an audience. Just remember doing this wrong could lead to awkwardness in the moment and loss of credibility later on in your career as a speaker.
However, if you’re passionate and certain that you can put your ideas into motion, using this type of closer is worth stepping into.
- Values and Vision
Turn what you’ve discussed in your speech or presentation into a hopeful vision of what the future could be!
Take a look at this example…
In 2013, educator Rita Pierson delivered a talk on how teachers need to build good relationships with students.
She ended her speech by saying:
“Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be. Is this job tough? You betcha. Oh God, you betcha. But it is not impossible. We can do this. We’re educators. We’re born to make a difference. Thank you so much.”
Pierson passed away two months after delivering that talk, but her call continued to resonate among a lot of educators.
In fact, Teachers in Transition’s Dr. Kitty Boitnott wrote a tribute to Pierson, saying:
“I did not know her and I did not know of her until today, but today, through her talk, she touched my life and reminded me why I was a teacher for over 3 decades.”
One key takeaway from this story?
By incorporating important values and visions at the end of your talk, you will not only make an impact on the actual attendees of your talk but also motivate them to work and live towards a better future.
It is quite disappointing for an audience to see a speaker start his or her talk strongly and then simply fizzle out towards the end.
Unless you plan your closing statement carefully, you might find yourself adding paragraph after paragraph until you don’t know how to end your speech anymore.
Take note of the recommendations above and the examples of speakers who nailed their closing statements well!
Whichever way you end, one thing you have to make sure is to carefully plan how you will conclude your talk.
Remember that an elegant closing paragraph, followed by a simple “Thank you” to your audience, offers a good shot towards a satisfying and impressive end.
Use one or a combination of the types of closers mentioned in this article and see how they will leave your audience astounded up until your final word!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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