How to end your speech, William Penn style
The two most important parts of our speech are the start and the finish. But most of us spend a lot more time concentrating on how to open our speech rather than how to end it. Thatís a mistake because the end of our speech is our chance to give audience members something to walk away with. One of the people who offered words of wisdom about how to properly end a speech is the great William Penn, a man who gave innumerable speeches during his lifetime. Hereís what William Penn had to say about ending a speechÖ
The two most important parts of our speech are the start and the finish. But most of us spend a lot more time concentrating on how to kick-off our speech rather than how to end it. Too often speeches have good beginnings and fizzling endings.
Thatís a mistake because the end of our speech is our chance to give audience members something to walk away with. The start of our speech is important to establishing rhythm for us and credibility for our audience. The end of our speech is our explanation point.
One of the people who offered words of wisdom about how to properly end a speech is the great William Penn, a man who gave innumerable speeches during his lifetime. If youíre like most Americans, William Penn is probably a name you remember from school but would be hard-pressed to explain the role he played in our nationís history. This is not usual for a nation rich in important historical characters.
For the record, Penn was a real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the province of Pennsylvania, which became the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The democratic principles that he set forth served as an inspiration for the U.S. Constitution. He walked among us from 1644 to 1718.
Hereís what William Penn had to say about ending a speech in a manner that accomplishes its intent: ďSpeak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly, for the end of a speech is not ostentation but to be understood.Ē
In other words, donít try to be showy or flowery. Donít get abstract or overly metaphorical. Donít be given to romanticized soliloquies. Instead, focus on directness and clarity. People respond far better to directness and clarity at this stage. Get too flowery or metaphorical and our message is likely to be misinterpreted or watered down.
So we should carefully consider our parting message. Whatís appropriate? What will actually penetrate? We might want to:
>> Reiterate our key message, the one we started with and reinforced along the way.
>> Echo something we said at the start of the speech, so come full circle and give our audience a sense of completeness. This gives our comments a wholistic feel.
>>†Present a call to action, if weíre asking or expecting audience members to act on what we have said. If we donít make the request or challenge, we donít get the desired action.
>> Contribute money to a cause they can get behind, based on the information we have imparted.
>>†Change their behavior in ways that benefit them.
In any case, we give speeches for a reason, and that is to influence others in some manner, shape or form ó whether to educate, entertain, motivate, manage or chastise. The end of the speech is our final opportunity to put our stake in the ground and drives audiences to action.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Consol, doing business as MikeConsol.com, is a business communications coach who teaches public speaking workshops to corporate professionals. He can be reached at 925-449-1040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.