Speech Ending Help
Introduction to Concluding Your Speech
To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.
—Benjamin Franklin, 1706–1790
What you say in your conclusion will become the most memorable part of your speech to the audience, so make it short and make it good!
Now that you have the body of your speech in good working order, you are ready to write the conclusion. When you created your outline, you made a sort of road map that enabled you to know where you were going and how you would get there. Now that you've finished detailing the route on your speech journey, you are ready to tell your audience where you arrived and how you got there.
Many speakers, however, tend to treat their conclusions as if they were self-evident. After all, they reason, I've spent 30 minutes explaining my topic—surely they get it by now! But the sad fact is that the audience might not get it, even after you've covered your topic in depth. They might understand all the points you've made and enjoyed your illustrations and examples, but they might not have stopped to consider what your topic means to them personally.
This is the "punch" of a good conclusion: It enables your audience to summarize your major points and apply them to their own experience. The body of your speech might have shown the audience how to paint miniature figures, but it's the conclusion that will help them understand how that knowledge applies to their own hobby. You might have outlined many good reasons to prefer toothpaste A over B, but it will be the conclusion that urges the audience to switch brands.
The conclusion is the compressed information that the audience will take home with them. If you're a computer user, you are probably familiar with .zip files, which contain compressed documents. The .zip file takes many large documents and squeezes them into their smallest size, gathers them all together, and encapsulates them into one small file. That is the role of the conclusion: It takes many large points, compresses them into several small snippets, explains how to use them, and sends them home with the audience.
Elements of a Good Conlcusion
The conclusion of your speech is aptly named, because it does two things: It concludes the speech, bringing it to a close; and it draws conclusions about your topic. To do this, a good conclusion will be brief, and it will:
- Restate your original thesis
- Summarize your major points
- Provide closure
- Call the audience to action
Restate Your Thesis
If you are giving a persuasive speech, your thesis will be the opinion you intend to prove. The thesis of an informative or demonstrative speech will be the knowledge or skill you intend to impart to your audience. As you open your conclusion, you will want to remind your audience of the reason why you were speaking to them in the first place.
The reason that this is important is not that the audience is unintelligent. No public speaker should ever fall prey to that line of thinking! The reason for reiterating your thesis is that it gets the audience to take a step back from focusing on the details of your speech and helps them to start looking at the big picture.
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