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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 January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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