Your speech may have an attention-grabbing introduction, solid research and convincing arguments, but your conclusion can make or break whether your audience walks away affected by your message. A strong speech conclusion provides closure by revisiting and reinforcing the main points and emphasizing the significance of your topic. Reviewing the purpose and objectives of your speech can help you compose a conclusion that challenges and resonates with listeners.
Restate Your Thesis
Just like in an essay, your speech's thesis statement determines its direction and purpose. Reviewing your thesis statement can reveal the major points your conclusion needs to address. Try isolating the primary claim your speech makes and how it sets the course for the evidence and examples you present later. Then, rephrase your thesis statement in the conclusion to remind audiences of where the speech began and where you've brought them. Don't assume the audience will remember your thesis statement or major points; briefly restating them reinforces the ideas in their minds.
Provide Circular Closure
Ideally, your speech's introduction captures your audiences attention using a statistic, story, quotation or rhetorical question. Revisiting that same tactic in the conclusion can signal that the speech is coming to a close as well as bring the content full circle for audiences. If your speech is about distracted driving, for example, your introduction might share that it caused 1 in 5 car accidents in 2011. You can mirror this introduction in your ending by reminding audiences to think twice before they drive inattentively, or they could be driving the 1 car in 5 that becomes a statistic.
Make Use of Signal Phrases
One way your conclusion brings closure to your speech is by using words that communicate to audiences that the message has come to its end. Phrases and words such as "finally," "in conclusion," "in summary" and "as we have seen" can direct listeners to pay attention to the final thoughts they should take away from the speech. Avoid using these phrases in any place other than the conclusion, since giving audiences a false impression of when the speech is over can distract them and cause them to miss important information.
Define the Topic's Significance
Ultimately, your speech's conclusion must answer the question "So what?"; it explains why audiences should care about the subject. The tactics you use to accomplish this vary according to the type of speech you're giving. If you're presenting an informational speech about musician Johnny Cash, you might show the topic's importance by offering examples of his continued influence on music. By contrast, a persuasive speech's conclusion should present a clear call to action. If your topic is animal abuse, for instance, you might urge audiences to adopt rescue animals instead of buying from pet stores or give to their local humane society.
- Oregon State University School of Arts and Communication: Writing a Conclusion
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences: Resources for Writers: Conclusion Strategies
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Speech Writing and Types of Speeches
- Bob Jones University: Effective Conclusions
- Austin Community College: Conclusion Techniques
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