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Great first lines live on in infamy:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
Once upon a time…
Why don’t great closings earn the same respect as great openings? I know they’re out there. I’ve sat through thousands of presentations and certainly was impressed by a good number of them. I’ve even given a few myself. However, the poor conclusion never quite obtained the level of notoriety as the opening. No one repeats them verbatim. And sometimes people forget to include them. However, the conclusion is just as important as the introduction and body of the speech or written piece.
The conclusion will wrap up or summarize the message you’re trying to convey. If you can present a great closing to your presentation or paper, you’re bound to propel your audience on to further action or discussion.
If you fail to provide a great or even good closing, you’re bound to leave the audience with a rather “ho-hum” or let-down experience. Who hasn’t sat through a presentation only to have the speaker abruptly say, “Well, that’s all the time I have. Thank you.”? It leaves the audience feeling unsatisfied and cheated out of a great conclusion. What is the take-away message? The audience wants that reminder.
After moving from general to specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin integrating more general information to restate the main points of your argument or topic. You want to meet the needs of your audience. In a general way, you can
- Restate your topic and why it is important,
- Restate your thesis/claim,
- Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position, and/or
- Call for action or overview future research possibilities.
Once you presented your conclusion, then you can put up that “Any Questions?” slide. At that point, don’t try to add in more information or explain anything further. Simplicity of restating your message is best for a clear, convincing message.
Remember the structure of your speech or writing needs to include three main elements: Introduction, Body and Conclusion. In your conclusion, remind the audience what you’ve just told them so they take away your intent firmly recognized. A great conclusion should make the reader glad they read or listened to your presentation.