And in the end…

In a great wide-ranging report on a National Speakers Association convention panel from Ian Griffin, these two sentences seized my attention:

Dychtwald claimed he gets more accomplished in the last 60 seconds of a speech than in the first 30 minutes. “The audience are with me, everything I say hits home.”

from How to write a keynote speech – secrets of masterful presenters

In speech after speech, I’ve seen a mad rush to the exits… by the speaker. The ending is perfunctory, or forced, or cliched, or a rote recap of the main points of the speech — but the underlying message is the same: Let’s get this over with.

Which is a huge, huge waste.

The audience has just spent the last 15 or 20 minutes getting to know the world you’ve created and the possibilities you’ve promised. If you’ve told your story at all well, then their emotional engagement will never be higher than it is as you conclude.

This is the time to make the call to action. And not a call to action that’s about you, but one that’s about them. How they can take some step that will put them on the path to a crucial change. How they can make a profound difference for themselves and the world.

This is the point where you can deepen the relationship you and your audience have been building with each other, and vest it with meaning.

If you’re writing a speech, and the sight of the finish line makes you want to rush, get up immediately from the keyboard. Step back, and reconnect with the speech’s real purpose. What change do you want to make in your audience? What change do you want your audience to make to the world?

Now go back and craft a dramatic climax – not just an ending.


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