Had another devoted reader (and it wasn’t my mom, honest!) offer:You gave several examples of weak endings. Give us few strong ones.A good closing is a continuation of a good delivery and body, which builds on a good opening. Unlike the world of sports, where you can make up for 3 bad quarters or 8 rough innings with something spectacular, in the world of communications, if your message isn’t unified, it’s unlikely you’ll save it with a short parting paragraph.There are bunches of frameworks and “methods” out there. Most say about the same thing. You hook ’em, you give them the meat, and you call ’em to action. Your close should leave them with no doubt about what you want them to do (action) and re-visit why they should do it (reason). It’s usually phrased around something meaningful to the listener — their motivation for caring in the first place.E.g. You’re giving a seminar to the local Rotary/Kiwanis/BBB on the benefits of local small businesses. Your objective is to raise the consumer’s awareness of the variety of services and products offered and to get them to buy local instead of rushing to Sam’s Club or the Internet every time a purchasing need/urge arrives. You’ve come up with a clever opening by tracing a dollar spent by a neighbor in your cul-de-sac and watching where that dollar travels. It ends up in (where else), China after only three transactions. Then you trace that same dollar if it had been spent solely in local businesses, and show how it ended up at every neighbor’s house before Uncle Sam (or the Queen, or the Czar, or Her Royal Highness) ended up with it all. You give your 3 points and a poem of why small businesses are the backbone to the economy. You’re ready to close. 5 minutes to pull it off. Touch back to your opening story. Pull on the heartstrings by showing that your boy’s best friend Johnny next door will have to move to Kalamazoo after his dad takes a job for Walmart (unless you live in Kalamazoo, of course) unless the local economy supports those who have products to offer. Your call to action is to get them stop and think — right now — on a product they intend to buy before the week is over, and tell their neighbor how they intend to research the possibilities for locally-owned alternatives. 30 seconds of loud chatter. You call them back and give them your strong close. No “I think” or “it could be”, but “it will” and “we must”. Demand that their support be shown in dollars spent, and make the plea that it start today. You may feel like a greasy evangelist, but guess what: you are. Every presentation is selling something, or you’re just wasting time.E.g. #2 You are tasked with giving a riveting lecture on better software project management to a crowd of geeks^H^H^H^H^H really smart programmers. They’ve been bored stiff for 3 hours of post-lunch convention-speak, and you’re the last speaker of the day (I’d probably just not show up in this situation, but you need the money. Work with me here.) You could give them a 105 PowerPoint slides showing them the 11 steps of project management and three ways to make each one better. And you’ll be hard to hear over the snoring. Instead, you hook them with a personal interst story — programmers are people, too (the biggest surprise of this blog entry!). Instead of 11 steps of 3 actions, you role play with members of the audience and have them act out the typical vs. the exceptional project. People have laughed, you’re on your way. But without an effective close, you’ve only been entertaining. You want them to remember your points, and act on them when they return to The Firm. So you play on a keyboard shortcut known to everyone (let’s choose F5, just for grins). F5 stands for the five points of effective project management that “refresh” your project, and alliterate your points with ‘F’ words (but not that F word — I’ll blog on that sometime) all through your talk. You give away a plush toy to the first person who can stand up and repeat them at the end (or five — one for each point), then you make your call to action (sharing why they’ll benefit again, of course), and you announce an online forum (and have business cards for them on their way out) to share their success stories, and promise a free Tshirt to the best implementation within the next week. You lead them to the decision that the difference between the same ol’ and the truly exceptional is in their power. Only they can make it happen. Just do it.These are made up. I’ve not thought of them before now — this is raw. Just trying to give examples.Brainstorm. Do something wild and memorable. Your audience may even remember you for it.
Close with a call to action that they will remember.
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