You’ve spoken eloquently and given your audience real value. Your audience are inspired, motivated, and have some great new skills they are eager to put into practice.
You’ve delivered your Diamond and made an amazing difference in the lives of hundreds of people.
The energy in the room is palpable. They know, as you know, that the gig is nearly over. Soon they will say goodbye to their friends and go back home or to work….
And you want to leave them with one last thing… Something fantastic, something thought-provoking, something truly memorable. A sentence that will stay on the tip of their tongue waiting for someone to ask “how was it” when it will trip easily off their tongue as a phrase that captures the very best of what you have said.
Or at least that’s how it should be…….
The Warner Bros Close
Yet how many times have you heard phrases like “I think my time is up, any questions?” or “That just about covers it… Yup nothing more from me”. Many speakers and presenters simply tail off, as if they have run out of steam. They hand over control to the audience (for a Q&A session), or they simply look at their watch and say “that’s all folks” or words to that effect.
The final words your audience hear should be powerful, memorable, exciting, influential. They are also the most likely to be remembered – providing you get them right.
Even if you have to hand out a form, you can always set it up that your well-prepared final lines are the last things they hear. You simply say something like “I would love to know what you thought, so if you would please fill in these forms. Once everyone has finished, I just want to say a few more words and then you are free to leave.“ This means your audience knows to stay put and then once you’ve delivered your powerful close, you don’t have to tell them “You can go now“.
It is vital if your audience is to act on what they have heard that they leave feeling motivated (to act) and also persuaded (to act). Start with one of the following options….
- A short story - inspire them with a new vision for what their life could be like if only they took the actions you have taught them, remind them of what Martin Luther King called “The Promised Land”.
- A surprising fact or statistic – something that highlights the issues you have been discussing and gives them a concrete reason to act on what you have discussed
- A quote – a powerful summation of your content or what the future might hold if they fail to act.
- A stirring call to action – “Are you going to ….“ Preferably a question that gets a YES response, so they are nodding as they leave…
When I presented at a celebration event for a life-changing project that involved saving lives from cancer, I closed a five minute presentation with a short story about joining the National Trust (which got the audience’s attention because it seemed so irrelevant). An earnest man had shaken my hand and told me that joining was the best thing I’d ever done in my life. I rolled my eyes, told them what I said to my husband and finished with the final rousing line: “THIS is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life”.
Your closing line should be well crafted, and well rehearsed so that whatever else happens during the presentation, you leave them with a powerful message that they can think about as they travel home and that will resonate around their heads for days to come.