Speech Conclusion: How to End a Presentation the Best Way
If you’ve learned anything about speech writing, you’ll know that there’s a recommended formula to use in designing the best presentation.
Essentially, your talk should have a short opening where you engage your audience, a middle part where you coherently cover the details of your speech topic and an ending that neatly sums everything up.
Remember, people have come to hear you talk when there are definitely other ways that they could be spending their time.
They’re looking to be entertained, or moved in some way. They want to leave the room better informed, educated and possibly curious to study more about your subject.
Therefore, you owe it to your listeners to put together the best presentation that you can – that includes a dynamite finish that they’ll reflect on afterwards.
Let’s take a closer look at how to approach the task. We’ll begin by discussing what not to do.
How NOT to End Your Speech: What Not to Do
Sure, when your talk is coming to an end you might be feeling relieved to have gotten through what you have to say without any obvious missteps.
It’s understandable if you’re ready to quickly exit stage left, and take your seat again with the audience members. After all, you’ve earned that privilege – right?
This is a natural temptation and another good reason why you really must take the time to write a proper wrap up.
Having said that, when it comes to crafting an effective ending, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Here’s what not to do.
We’ve already mentioned that the ending is the place where you sum up the main message of your speech in some fashion.
However, you don’t want to repeat so much of your talk that your audience’s eyes start to glaze over.
Going on too long about what you’ve already said is a definite no-no. People may just think that you’re doubting their intelligence!
Taking a tangent
As well, you mustn’t go off on a tangent and introduce some new thoughts that are unrelated to what you’ve just spent some time telling listeners.
This will only confuse people.
Furthermore, the participants may second guess what your topic really was all about, and whether they’ve heard you properly.
Take care not to finish abruptly. People need to know by what you say that you’re getting ready to wind things up.
It should not come as a shock that it’s already time for them to applaud.
You also shouldn’t stop with a whimper, so to speak.
You voice has to remain clear and strong right up until you’ve delivered your last statement. Keep the volume up and don’t mumble!
Offer an apology
Seriously! Don’t do this!
It could be that you believe your speech wasn’t up to your own standards. Maybe you got off track a little, or missed making a minor point that you’d intended.
Whatever it is, your listeners in all likelihood didn’t notice. Even if they did, they’ve already moved on and forgiven you.
Therefore, you certainly don’t want to draw their attention to anything that you felt wasn’t up to par.
12 Best Ways to End a Speech to be Remembered
Be mindful that your final comments are probably going to be the most memorable part of your talk.
As people file out of the auditorium or meeting room, what you said last will be ringing in their ears. In addition, they may be sharing their reaction to your words with others in attendance.
Therefore, you want to leave them with a good impression.
Now that you can appreciate the importance of finishing off your presentation well − and some of the pitfalls to avoid – you’re ready to learn about a number of great ideas for speech endings.
Following are the different ways you can go.
1. Paraphrase the main points
Take a minute to recap the main points of your presentation.
Tell people again what you just told them, but be sure to do it in a very succinct way.
While you shouldn’t just say verbatim what you’ve relayed already, it’s quite acceptable to repeat a phrase or sentence from your opening as a way to reinforce your main point. Whatever you choose, keep it short.
One approach to paraphrasing is to package the information in three points.
It has been shown that patterns of three can have some staying power in the minds of listeners. Here are a few examples that illustrate this:
“...government of the people, by the people, for the people.” – Abraham Lincoln
“I came. I saw. I conquered.” – Julius Caesar
Basically, paraphrasing reinforces the main message of your talk so that those participating are much more likely to bring it to mind later on.
2. Give them a take-away
This approach is somewhat similar to the above idea. It involves giving people the single most important message that you want them to leave with.
Since you’re asking them to focus on only one thought, they’re more apt to commit it to memory.
Plus, boiling the information you’ve just delivered down to a central idea can be very impactful.
Listeners will take to heart that there’s one single take-away they should really pay attention to. They’re more likely to recall the main point you made, and even relay it in conversation with colleagues, friends and family.
One very effective method of doing this is to tell your audience upfront that you want them to recall something. For instance, you could preface your point with one of these phrases:
“When you leave here today, I want you to remember . . .”
“If you take anything away from my presentation today, it should be that . . .”
And say your point.
3. Call them to action
This is a very popular way to end a speech and, no wonder, when you think of how it can affect those listening.
Essentially, you’re going to ask people to do something as a result of absorbing your talk.
Maybe they’ve been swept away by the inspiration you’ve demonstrated in telling them a moving story of overcoming adversity. Perhaps they’re intrigued by the new ideas you’ve presented to manage personal stress.
At the end of your speech, the time is ripe to call them to an action of some sort. Here are some examples, using slightly different approaches:
“The next time you look at the stars in the night sky, I urge you to think about how incredibly vast is our universe.”
“When you see another television commercial about hunger, are you going to change the channel, or are you going to call the number on the screen and make a donation?”
Demanding something of your audience will cause them to reflect on your presentation and especially so when they next find themselves in the situation you’ve described.
Regardless of whether or not they decide to follow through on what you’ve asked, they’ll be thinking of what you said.
4. Repeat the title
Here’s a simple idea that you might have seen used.
Granted, we’ve already explained why you shouldn’t regurgitate your speech in your closing remarks.
However, just repeating the title of your speech can be a great way to sum up and refocus the audience on what your presentation was about.
Of course, this calls for creating an excellent title that will stand on its own as a representation of your talk.
Moreover, your title could be in the form of a provocative question, or employ an alliteration to make it really interesting and memorable.
5. Position with power
End your speech with a powerful bang by making a bold statement that links back to your talk.
Employ strong words or unique turns of phrase. This can be accomplished by writing out your closing statement and searching for synonyms for certain words that will convey more emotion, or spark increased interest.
Emphasize what you have to say with a confident posture that matches.
Another approach to show your power is to make a grand physical gesture. If, for example, your closing statement is “What I want the whole world to know is . . .” you could spread your arms wide in a circle to suggest that you’re reaching out across the globe.
Listeners will remember your words for the strength and enthusiasm behind them.
6. Use your body language
If you’ve done any public speaking, you’ll already appreciate the importance of experimenting with body language. The right posture and gestures can convey so much!
It’s just as critical to display impactful body language at the end of your speech since this is the last thing people will see.
What you do physically on stage should help your audience recall you for the right reasons.
Certainly, you can take a little bow and then walk confidently away from the podium. However, wouldn’t it make people recall you and what you told them better if you did something different?
Maybe you want to shimmy off stage with a dance move, skip or give a few low sweeping bows while blowing kisses to the audience? Use your imagination and find something that fits with your speech topic.
In the following video, Vikram did a somersault to conclude his speech and the audience went wild! (starts at 6:42)
7. Use a prop or visual
If you’ve brought a prop on stage and referred to it earlier in your speech, bring the attention of your participants back to it as you make your closing remarks.
Perhaps you’ve rolled a little suitcase behind you when you first walked to the podium as a visual about the personal baggage that we all carry. Well, grab the handle and give the case a little twirl to bring the audience’s eyes back to it.
Have you arrived on stage wearing a funny wig? You’ve probably set it aside so as not to distract from your words, but pop it back on your head at the end of your speech to help people make a connection to your entire message.
At the start of the following speech recording, the 2014 World Champion of Public Speaking Dananjaya Hettiarachchi pulled out the petals of a flower and threw them into a trash can. At the end of his speech, he pulled out a whole flower from the trash can to make a point.
It was a 'wow' moment.
There are other options for leaving people with a visual that they’ll remember. Here are a few:
Don’t forget, your prop or visual aid should relate back to your topic. If you’re talking about a wedding, then a confetti shower could be an unforgettable finish!
8. Surprise them
There are so many amazing ways to do this. The sky might just be the limit!
Your listeners will perk up at the mention of something unexpected and take the time to reflect on how it connects to your topic.
A club member once gave a speech about online Zoom meetings, and I suggested to her to wear a formal attire for her top, and home clothes for her bottom, so that at the end of her speech, she could stand up to reveal that juxtaposition and walk away.
That would be a surprise humorous ending.
Here are a couple of other methods to consider:
As always, have your surprise flow from the subject of your presentation.
9. Envision the future
Give your audience your take on the future. This will ignite a sense of curiosity, especially if they start to contemplate what it might mean for them personally.
Envisioning the future could be as simple as explaining what, in your mind, comes next or what you suggest needs to happen. Prepare a few words about what action needs to be taken to make a positive change, for instance.
Alternatively, you could forecast a future time when everyone will, or won’t, be doing something. Imagining the end of all wars around the world is one example.
Make your future image compelling with lots of detail. Draw on as many senses as you can to help participants to see, smell and hear your dream for the near or longer term.
You’ll have people quickly trying to connect the dots and the meaning of your speech.
10. Share a story
Polishing off your presentation with a short anecdote is another impactful method.
It should be a brief story that relates back to your speech. Tell people a tale that illustrates the point of your talk, and ensure that it’s both captivating and relatable.
You might want to give the ending to an anecdote that you spoke about earlier in your presentation, or a piece that just wraps everything up nicely.
When you think about, people will often quickly become engrossed in a story. It makes what you have to say more digestible, and more readily recalled.
11. Show your scholarly side
Construct a noteworthy closing by harnessing the strength of a few novel ideas. The following tips can, for sure, increase the memorability of your speech:
Any of these ideas will leave your listeners with something catchy, or special, to remember your presentation.
12. Thank them
Here’s another suggestion for a speech ending.
Say a few words of thanks.
You might express your appreciation directly to those in attendance that have been, hopefully, hanging on your every word. Thank them for showing up and giving you their time.
Additionally, you can talk briefly about your appreciation for others who may have invited you to speak or supported your presentation in some way.
This shows people very clearly that you’ve finished speaking.
However, if you had a strong conclusion, I wouldn't suggest this as it would weaken the impact of your conclusion and Call to Action.
How to Choose the Best Ending
Some of the ideas offered might lend themselves more to particular speech purposes. For instance, if your talk is intended to inspire it’s quite appropriate to finish off with a call to action.
And, you might feel more comfortable with certain options and gravitate towards them more readily.
Maybe you’ve already tired one or two of these methods?
Whatever the case, consider how your listeners are likely to respond to these examples, and decide on the ones that will work well with your speech.
Final Thoughts on Concluding a Speech
Once you’ve selected how you’re going to end your talk, prepare your lines.
There’s actually one school of thought that it makes sense to write your ending first and then build your speech from there. So, that’s something you might want to give a shot to.
Ideally, you’ll become practiced enough at public speaking, over time, that you’ll be able to memorize what you have to say. While it doesn’t have to be exactly what you wrote when you drafted your talk, it should be close enough.
In the meantime, your closing remarks are one of the two sections in your speech (the other is your opening) where you absolutely should memorize your lines.
This will help you ace your delivery, especially if you’re trying out a new way to end a speech that’s a little outside your comfort zone.