Public Speaking: Making Your Last Words Last

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

              Here’s an idea to end  your speeches with something more engaging than “Thank you.” Reading time: 3:54

        Last words linger. Movie buffs know that. I still cringe when I think of Anthony Hopkins’ cannibal character’s chilling last line in The Silence of the Lambs:

Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs
Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

“I do wish we could chat longer
but I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.”

        And I always smile when I recall then 76-year-old Henry Fonda’s last line to Katharine Hepburn in the movie On Golden Pond:

“Wanna dance or
would you rather suck face?

        Yes, last words linger. That’s why I always grit my teeth a bit when public speakers let their last words just drop on the floor,  brushed aside and tossed in the proverbial “Thank you” trash pile.

       How can you can resist–the point of least resistance:  ending your speech with a too familiar and therefore too ordinary “Thank you? “

       Try these four steps:  1. Think of yourself as a drummer when you are concluding your speech. 2. Build to a crescendo. 3. End on a high note 4. Use short sentences in your concluding paragraph.

     Here’s an example of the crescendo finish: Let’s say you were concluding a speech to persuade your audience to take some action and you want to use an oft quoted poem  Life is an Adventure  by that famous author — Mr. or Mrs.  Anonymous.  Notice how the short sentence structure increases the pacing and energy. And so what we have been saying is that life is:

An adventure, Dare it. A duty, Perform it. An opportunity, Take it.
A journey, Complete it. A promise, Fulfill it. A puzzle, Solve it.
A goal, Achieve it.”
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