In my experience, a lot of my public speaking students give much more attention to how they start their speech rather than how to end it. Many of them don’t realize that how you end a speech is of paramount importance, too. After all, the last things your audience hear from you may make the biggest lasting impression.
What are some powerful ways how to end a presentation? There are some proven techniques to ending a presentation, like giving your audience a call to action, or using the rule of three. You may also use some lesser known ways like giving visual imagery or asking them a question.
Now, let’s jump right in!
How to End Your Presentation in a Powerful Way?
Today, I am going to show you 13 proven tips that I have found highly effective for ending your speech in a powerful way. And when I am done, you will be able to confidently give an ending to any presentation.
#1 Give Your Audience a “Call to Action”
A call to action is not only one of the most common ways to end a speech, but it is certainly one of the most powerful. The type of call to action you will give your listeners is based upon the tone and subject of your presentation.
The first step to planning this type of ending is to know what kind of action you want your audience to take. Then, find a way to tell them to take that action. Don’t just assume people will figure that out on their own; it’s okay to tell them, too.
Are you giving a marketing talk with the intention of selling a product or service to your audience members? Maybe your call to action is to encourage them to become a customer of yours.
Or maybe you are promoting a lifestyle of volunteering and helping others. Your call to action could be telling your audience how they should get involved with charity at a local level. Do you see where I’m going with this?
One common way of doing this is to give your audience two possible actions they could take, and the outcomes of each. First, you should give them a negative action.
This is the thing you don’t want them to do. Elaborate what might happen if they take this action. Then, tell them the action you want them to take, and what positive outcome they may have. Here is an example:
“Let’s say that you decide not to invest in a retirement account today. What will your future look like after age 65? How will you know you will have enough to live on without a retirement account? You could end up still working into your 70’s without the ability to fully retire.
Or, you could invest in your future today. And when it is time for you to retire, you will be able to enjoy those years without worrying about how you will make ends meet. If this is the future you want for yourself and your family, stop by one of our local branches today to talk about opening a retirement account.”
Can you see where we are giving the negative action choice, and the positive action choice in the example above? Remember, the positive action choice is the action that you want your audience to take.
#2 End With a Quote
Do you know of a good quote by a trusted source that would help drive your point home? Or do you have a self-written quote you wish to share? Your presentation ending may be a good time to use a relevant quote.
People love quotes, and they provide a satisfying ending. But make sure that your quote is appropriate for the tone and message of your speech.
If you give a quote about an unrelated matter, you are no longer delivering a powerful ending. Instead, you may just end up baffling your audience.
If you plan on writing a quote, devote a lot of your speech-planning time to coming up with just the right one. Or maybe you want to give a quote that you have already used on social media, in a book, in a previous presentation, or somewhere else. That is fine, as long as it is relevant.
#3 Give a Quick Summary of Your Message
This is one of the more common methods that I see recommended to the beginners when it comes to ending a speech.
What is the message of your speech? Once you can effectively answer that question, write a brief summary ending that is based on that message.
After all, this is the thing you want your audience to remember most about your presentation. Ending with it will help drill the message into their minds. Don’t leave them walking away, confused about the purpose of your talk.
One easy way you can do this is by setting up a question at the beginning of your talk, and then answering it at the very end. This has the added benefit of keeping your audience hooked throughout your presentation, waiting for you to deliver that answer!
#4 Offer a Visual Image
Visual imagery is incredibly powerful to the human mind. That is why it might be a good idea to show an image to your audience that relates to your point when you are giving your closing.
While this may be easier if you are giving a PowerPoint slideshow during your talk, there are certainly other ways to incorporate this method.
Ask yourself what kind of image relates to the purpose of your talk, and might also be a good thing for your audience to see before they walk out the door? What will help solidify your message in their memories?
#5 Don’t End With a Question and Answer Session
Many good presentations include a question and answer session at some point to allow the audience to ask questions and get answers from the speaker.
And while many speakers usually have a question and answer period after making their main points, they will open up the floor. However, you should not make this the last thing you do during a presentation.
A lot of speakers don’t realize that this sort of ending is not powerful, nor is it memorable. It makes you go off track, and after all those questions?
Well, your audience may lose sight of the purpose of your speech. A negative question from an audience member can also leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth if it is the last thing they hear before they exit.
Don’t get me wrong, it is always a good idea to open the floor up to answer questions from your audience. But after that is done, end the question and answer period to give a proper ending. This will make a much greater, and more positive, impact.
#6 Ever Heard of the “Rule of Three”?
If you’ve attended a lot of public speaking events, chances are that you have heard someone use the rule of three before. But what exactly does this term refer to? There is a whole school of thought that says that our words are more powerful when we present information in sets of threes.
Look up famous quotes, and notice most of them present information in sets of threes. For example, you can say something like, “Retirement accounts can provide three things for your future: financial stability, peace of mind, and something to fall back on during hard times”.
Three-word slogans or using the same memorable word three times can also both work. You can tailor the rule of three ideology to fit your own specific needs, but the principle remains the same.
#7 Ending With a Story
This tactic may take some extra planning, but it creates a very relatable experience for your listeners. After all, sharing a story with your audience gives a personal touch that lets them feel closer to you when you are speaking.
And if you have read any of my other articles, you know I’m a big fan of storytelling.
When you end with a story, try to make it brief. You don’t want to start something that is going to be long and drawn-out when you are trying to bring everything to a close.
In order to make this method really compelling, be sure to choose a story that is both personal and emotionally compelling. This creates a more powerful impact on your audience.
If you’re looking to take this a step further, I can offer you a more advanced tip. Start your story at the beginning of your presentation, and promise your audience you will get back to it later.
Then, end your speech with the rest of that same story. This will keep them hooked throughout your speech, waiting for you to finish that story!
#8 Have a Unique Tagline? Use it
Not all speakers have a personal tagline associated with them. But if you do have one, you should probably consider using it during your closing.
And what do I mean by a unique tagline? Well, do you have a catchphrase for you or your brand? Have you coined a well-known saying in the business world or on social media?
If there is a tagline that you consistently use, you should consider using it as an ending for your speech. This helps to both reinforce your message in the short term, and build your brand in the long term.
In between the times that you give public speeches, I recommend that you constantly use this unique tagline as much as you can on social media and in other outlets.
#9 Go Back to the Beginning
Many students are baffled when I tell them to end their presentation by going back to the beginning. But when you think about it, this is a practice that really works.
Did you use a specific hook during your opening? Use that during your closing. Did you open with a quote or interesting fact? Restate it. Do you need to wrap up something that you started at the beginning? Wrap it up.
This can also work in reverse, as a lot of speakers use the content of their ending to decide what their beginning will be. This is why proper planning can help make a speech perfect.
#10 Ask Your Audience a Compelling Question
Many speeches are actually ended with the speaker asking the audience a compelling question that is relevant to the main topic. Because when you ask a question, people are automatically compelled to think about the topic in order to give a worthwhile answer.
Plan out a solid question related to your topic that will make your audience members think more in-depth about it.
For example, asking your audience what they think life will be like after retirement without a retirement account will certainly get people thinking about retirement funds.
#11 Don’t be Afraid to Use Humor
Maybe you would rather use a joke instead of a story or quote to end your presentation. Depending on your personality and the tone of your talk, this may actually be the most appropriate approach.
Examples of this include if you are known for your humorous personality, or if your talk is playful and friendly instead of professional and serious.
Humor is a good way to show your audience that you are trying to relate to them on a personal and authentic level. It is also a good feeling when everyone is walking away smiling and laughing. After all, laughter releases feel-good chemicals in the brain!
It almost goes without saying that you should not choose a joke that is sexually inappropriate, or culturally offensive to anyone. While these may seem funny to some of us in our personal lives, you should never use an offensive joke during a presentation.
#12 Plan Your Ending in Advance
And if your speech is not an on-the-spot kind of thing, it should be easy for you to take time to plan the entire thing. This includes giving careful attention to the ending.
You could even take out a piece of paper with a pen, and write a list of possible endings to use. From there, you can make a proper decision. Once you have chosen, start fleshing out your ending plan with more details.
#13 No Matter What, Offer a Clear Sign You’ve Ended
You don’t want your audience still sitting in their chairs long after you’ve finished, uncertain of whether you are done or not.
I am surprised by the number of students I have taught who will walk off stage before making a clear ending. If you want to keep your audience coming back to see future presentations of yours, you have to give a clear and satisfying ending.
This can be tricky to master, but I promise you that it is worth it. Don’t fidget with things, shuffle your note cards, move about awkwardly, or randomly leave the stage.
Give your audience a verbal cue to indicate that you are finished, without sounding generic or cliche. Then, take a strong, confident stance.
And here’s an extra tip…
I want my readers to feel like they are getting all the information they need when they come to my blog. And that is why I am going to give you an extra tip in addition to the 13 that I have given you above.
Picture yourself as part of the audience instead of the speaker. You have just spent the better part of an afternoon of your life listening to a speaker giving a presentation on stage in front of you.
Throughout their presentation, you have listened intently, you took notes, and you applauded at the appropriate times. You even raised your hand and asked that burning question that was in the back of your mind all throughout the first part of the speech.
But before the speaker walks off stage, they take a brief moment to thank the audience members for coming out, listening, asking questions, and staying until the very end.
Whether you realize it or not, this speaker has just made a connection with you.
An important part of giving any speech is making your audience feel valued. That is why you should make sure you always thank your audience after a presentation. I explain to my students all the time that there are many reasons why this is a major key to giving a successful speech.
Without an audience, you would be speaking to an empty room of no one but yourself. Be sure to thank them each and every time.
The Tone Sets the Ending
So, what kind of presentation are you giving?
Clearly define the purpose of your speech long before you even begin or end it. This is important whether you are talking with or without notes.
Obviously, you can see how these two types of talks have two distinctly different tones. It would not look very tasteful if you were trying to sell a product or service during a commencement speech.
And vice-versa, not using any sales techniques during a business speech may not be effective for trying to promote your services.
What kind of ending you should choose?
The tone of your presentation even can be important when you are deciding what to wear during. A business talk demands a professional look, while a more casual gig may not.
And the reason I bring up tone is because it is an important part of deciding what kind of ending you should choose. If you’re giving a more informal presentation, then a joke or personal story may be most appropriate.
On the other hand, an incredibly formal, business-oriented company presentation for a room of potential clients may demand a much different kind of ending.
Take a few minutes to sit down and think about the tone of your message. If possible, do it with a co-worker, trusted friend, or mentor.
Try to put your thoughts down on paper so you can better organize them. Then, try to list various appropriate endings that you think you might be able to use for your presentation.
So, how much thought are you giving to your closing statement now? What method of closing do you prefer best? And what have you learned about the tone of your speeches?
After this, you should be able to end your speech with confidence, and send a powerful message to your audience. I have given you tips such as using the rule of three, asking a compelling question, and making sure you clearly mark your ending.
If you have any other tips that you would like to share, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
Does public speaking cause you to get all teared up? Check out my article about how to give a speech without crying.
What does the term “closing” refer to? The ending to your speech is often referred to as a closing. Learning how to give a powerful closing to your speech is just as important as any other part of the presentation itself.
How do I effectively start a presentation? While it may sound like a paradox, you can add information from your written conclusion to your opening statement. Make sure that you have planned a clear ending before you take this approach. This also works in reverse, as many speakers tend to go back to the beginning for their closing.
How do I write a witty closing remark? Don’t force it, or it will sound awkward. After you’ve written a draft, ask a speaking friend or trusted mentor for feedback. Remember what the overall tone of your presentation is before you get started.