008 How to Close a Speech (without Collapsing in a Pool of Self-pity)

008 How to Close a Speech (without Collapsing in a Pool of Self-pity)

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How you close a speech, might be more important than the opening. Learn what to say and what NEVER to do or say, to ensure the best experience for your audience, as well as your host.

You will learn:

  • Tips on how to close a speech;
  • Want to get invited back? What to do and what not to for speakers;
  • When best to thank the hosts during your speaking;
  • What NEVER to do or say, at the end of your speaking.

00:00 Welcome to Steal The Show with Michael Port. From speeches, to job interviews, to deal-closing pitches, how to guarantee a standing ovation for all the performances in your life. This is Michael. And this episode is about how to close a speech. What do you do at the end of a speech? Do you just say, “Okay. I’ve run out of time. See yeah. Bye.” So this is an important topic. I know most people fret about it, and we are going to solve it right now so you know exactly what to do when you close your speech. All of these podcast episodes that I do for Steal The Show are based on the book, ‘Steal The Show.’ And you can get it anywhere books are sold. You can go to stealtheshow.com. And you can get lots of free bonuses when you buy one or more copies of the book. So don’t hesitate, go over to stealtheshow.com. Get yourself your copy so you can be a better speaker, 100% guaranteed.

00:54 So how do you close? ‘Cause the closing of your speech or your presentation, it might even be more important than the opening. Now you may have heard that the two things audiences remember most… Maybe you haven’t heard this, but you’re hearing it now for the first time. The two things audiences remember most are their most emotional response to the speech. And if it’s not a very emotional speech, it would be the most intellectually stimulating moment of the speech, and the closing of the speech. So if you’re preparing a curriculum-based speech, you need to provide a concise, yet comprehensive review of all the audience has learned, without going into every detail.

01:40 Now here are my tips for commanding a strong close. End cleanly. If anything feels like it was left unsaid, if you said you were gonna unpack something, you must unpack it. So if it’s left unsaid, it needs to be said, but before the applause. Anything after the applause is lost, as the audience has already moved on. So make sure the audience knows that you did everything you came to do. If you try to add in anything after the applause, then you’re often shouting at them, “Wait, hold on. No come… There was one more thing… By the way. I’m gonna be… ” And you’ve lost them. You’ve already dropped your status significantly by doing that.

02:24 You also want to make sure you don’t say, “I’m out of time.” It’s not like you go to the therapist, and they say, “Okay so, our time’s up.” And then you know you have to leave. It’s not like that. Your presentation will then feel unfinished. Additionally, when an audience loves everything you’ve done and said, they often appreciate a little extra time. See, adults are just like kids, in that sitting for long periods of time can be uncomfortable. Plus, people are busy and they have got things to take care of during the breaks in the program. So end just a little bit earlier, even if they’re loving every minute. If you’ve got 60 minutes, make sure your presentation is about 50, ’cause you’ll add in about 5 minutes of air in there. So you’re gonna end it about five… 55 minutes, and then you have a few extra minutes. And they’re really, really appreciative of that.

03:16 Have you ever noticed that comedians end shows surprisingly and abruptly? That’s intentional. They never want you to know what’s coming next because it’s a good set up for an encore. So you always try to leave before the audience is ready for you to leave. Don’t be the last one to leave the party when you’re the speaker. And if you’re speaking on someone else’s stage, possibly the most disrespectful thing you can do to the organizers, the other speakers, and the audience, is to run over your allotted time.

03:52 I once gave the opening speech at a conference for Anytime Fitness, very large fitness franchise. And the first two hours were allotted for six keynoters. Each speaker was allotted 20 minutes. So that’s a tight schedule to begin with, but we’re professionals. It shouldn’t be a problem. My presentation ran for 19 minutes and 45 seconds. Why? ‘Cause I was very well rehearsed and I knew exactly how long it was gonna take, give or take a few seconds. So 19:45. The woman who followed ran for 39 minutes. I kid you not. The man after her took another 35 minutes. It was a complete train wreck. And the organizers were forced to cut the sixth presenter. So they were none too happy, and neither was the speaker. And these were professionals being paid upwards of $25,000 for a short speech in front of 3,000 people. It should be obvious, but I’m not sure it is, because so many speakers run over time. In fact, roughly 60% of speeches run long. I don’t know, I guess maybe those speakers have more important things to say than everybody else. If it were my event, I would have pulled them off the stage with a big hook, or hit a gong, or something.

05:16 So if you’ve got a great story to tell at the end of your presentation that sums up your entire world view, then great. If you have a group activity interaction that helps you close strong, that too, is great. And at some point, you’ll want to thank or acknowledge your host, but that could be done at any point. In fact, I prefer to find a moment during the presentation to honor the people in the room and those who brought us together. And my recommendation is not to take questions at the end. It’s better if the Q&A is a separate segment, if possible. See, I’ve noticed speeches where the Q&A, especially at the closing, changes the energy in the room. And the presenter is no longer in control. It can work. It certainly can and it has.

06:01 But you have to make sure that you’re in control of the segment and you can drive it. If you do, if you do want to include Q&A, you can do it before the closing and leave at least 10 minutes before your speech ends, so that you’re completely in control of the energy and the ideas shared. So when you’re ending a presentation, just make sure to end cleanly, so the audience knows that you’re done, and it’s time to clap. Put your head back, put your arms out, take a bow, thank you very much, blow kisses to the audience, smile, wave and trod off. And you’ll close strong, maybe you don’t have to go quite that far with your bow, but take it in, enjoy the applause. Smile, let them know that you know you did a great job. So if your [06:56] ____ sheep is at your close, ’cause you’re feeling like you didn’t do a great job, then the audience will pick that up. And finally, after you give a speech, never tell anyone in that room that you didn’t think you did a great job.

07:10 One of the things that you see some amateur actors do is, after their show, someone will come up to them who was in the audience and say, “Oh, that was a great show; I really enjoyed it.” And they go, “Ah, I wasn’t really on tonight. I didn’t have my best night.” And then the person says, “Oh, okay, I guess it wasn’t that good.” Their perception of what they experienced changed, and you’re also taking away their experience from them. Generally, the audience doesn’t… They don’t see the difference between your good performance and your absolute best performance, those are subtleties. Now, bombing, which I did once, over the last 12 years, is very different than being mediocre. I’ve had a lot of mediocre presentations over the years that just, I just didn’t really nail it; I didn’t kill it. And then I’ve had lots of ones where I did kill it, and I can feel the difference in every single one.

08:05 The difference between killing it and bombing, you can tell. You just gotta go home, lick your wounds, and figure out how to do better next time. But when you do a good job, when you’re prepared, when you’re well-rehearsed, the audience is gonna appreciate every thing you’re doing up there, and you don’t need to worry that you missed a moment here or there, so don’t bring it to them, don’t share it with them. Make sure that they know that you know you did a great job, and it’ll influence the way they see you and the job that you did.

08:36 This is Michael Port, telling you to go to stealtheshow.com, buy a copy of the book, you’ll love it, I promise, absolutely promise. I’ll say to you, if you don’t love it, I’ll buy you a book of your choice from Amazon and send it to you. So, all you have to do is go buy ‘Steal The Show,’ read it, love it, if you don’t love it, send me an email at questions@michaelport.com, tell me you didn’t love it, and then tell me what book you want, your name and address, and I’ll buy it for you and send it to you. I am not buying you some $300 coffee table book, but I will buy you a book of similar value, on the same topic, so that you can get what you wanna get out of being a performer. But I have absolutely no doubt you will love all of it, and my guarantee to you is that you will be a 100% better as a performer, as a presenter, as a speaker, because you don’t need to be a entertainer to be a performer. You just need to be fully self-expressed. This is Michael Port signing off, keep thinking big about who you are and what you are for the world. Bye for now.