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7 Tips To End A Speech With A Bang

7 Tips To End A Speech With A Bang

Think of your favorite book, movie or TV show. Can you remember how it started? Maybe, maybe not. Can you remember how it ended? Of course!

Whenever you give a speech, at a high school or college graduation, at a business meeting or a civic association, you want your audience to remember the ENDING of your speech more than anything else.

Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream‘ speech, contains one of the most moving and inspirational endings in the history of rhetoric. The haunting refrain that runs throughout the entire speech moved millions who heard it back then, and it still resonates today.

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Here are seven super ways to end your speech that will leave your audiences wide awake and ready to follow your lead:

1. Do not leave the ending of your speech up to improvisation

Maybe you’re good at thinking on your feet, and don’t like the idea of being constrained by written words for your closing remarks. But in the famous words of Agent Gibbs on TV’s NCIS, “Suck it up, probie.” Unless you’re a professional stand up comedian, you need the words on paper to keep you focused, articulate, and professional-sounding. One of the first rules of Toastmasters International, an organization that trains its members in the art of speech making, is to BE PREPARED before you even start your speech. In other words: begin with the end in mind.

2. Always close with a CTA

Editor Andrew Dlugan advises, “Make your call to action clear and direct; make your request something the audience can act upon immediately; make it easy and convenient enough so anyone can do it; make sure the audience knows exactly how it will benefit them; and don’t issue the challenge to your audience, but to the individuals in the audience- you don’t want the crowd to do anything, but you want each individual in it to do something… look at them directly and state forcefully ‘I challenge you today to . . ..’”

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3. Summarize at the end

Anything from a meandering wasp to an uncomfortable seat can distract your audience so that they miss key elements of your speech. Repetition of your main points near the end of your talk is appreciated by audiences, and will recharge their memory and prepare them for your subsequent call to action.

4. Use a story at the end of your speech

In an article in The New Yorker about the science of storytelling, writer Adam Gopnik says, “Stories are the currency of life.” People don’t remember how many drowned on the Titanic; they only remember how they felt when they saw the story or heard the story for the first time. But make sure you use a story that will excite people- not a bedtime story that you would tell a child!

5. Include something interesting/educational

Few things are more deathly dull than giving a high school graduation speech- or listening to one! Such speeches are usually a tepid brew of platitudes and bromides that would make a cyclone lie down and snooze. So use some interesting factoids, such as the ones present in this Shutterfly infographic about graduation ceremonies around the world, to spice things up and build interest as you approach the end of your speech. Rummage through the internet for weird and intriguing items you can include in your speech to keep your audience wondering and chuckling right to the end.

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6. Make ‘em laugh

“Always leave ‘em with a laugh” is the old vaudeville saying, and it still works today. A bit of self-deprecating humor is always appreciated, and happily remembered, by your audience as you wind down. For example:

“I know I’m a great speaker, because as soon as I sit down people start telling me it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Or:

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“My speeches are like the horns on a steer- one point here and one point there, and in between just a lot of bull.”

Adding humor to your speech can bring it alive; as speechwriter Robert Orben noted, “One laugh is worth a thousand words.”

7. Less is more

If your speech is scheduled for the last ten minutes of a business meeting, talk to them for nine minutes, and then ask if there are any questions. If you’re doing an hour-long seminar, you can make the crowd love you, and, in fact, you might even get a standing ovation, if you only take 50 minutes. Statistics show that adult attention spans have been steadily decreasing during the past 15 years. Unless you have the charisma of Jerry Seinfeld, the sex appeal of Jennifer Lopez, and the money of Bill Gates, you are going to have to work hard at making the audience like you and pay attention to you for much longer than a few minutes at a time. As Shakespeare wrote: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Featured photo credit: allanfernancato via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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