How to END a speech with power and impact

The universe has no end.

Doesn’t that blow your mind a little? When you look up in the sky, it doesn’t end.


Han Solo and Chewbacca could travel at light speed in the Millennium Falcon forever, and they’d never get to the ‘far reaches of the galaxy’, because it just keeps going on and on. (Which is what some presentations feel like.)

This is difficult for humans to fathom. Our brain can’t process things that don’t end. It causes overwhelm, which shuts down our processing and recall faculties.

This, however, creates a unique opportunity. The human mind yearns for structure and defined limits – a clearly defined start and end. When we provide this to our listeners, they process what you say with less effort and find it easier to remember.

You know how to start a speech, here’s how to end a speech or presentation.


Last words linger. Don’t waste them

The end of your talk is automatically a focal point for your audience. Your last words to end a speech give you a singular opportunity to embed a message into the mind of your listeners.

How often have you sat through a presentation that trails off and ends a speech with no real point? It’s amazing how many presenters seem surprised by the ending of their own talk! The final slide comes up and the speaker says, “Oh um, I guess that’s it. So… any questions?”

And yet, the end of your presentation is your golden moment to leverage all the words you’ve said until then.


End a speech with more credibility

Worse still, a weak ending diminishes your credibility. Why? When the audience doesn’t get the structure they crave, your ideas seem weaker, less important, less memorable, less complete.

And because you’re the speaker who delivered this unsatisfying combination, you don’t appear to have as much authority.

People expect completion. That’s what an end of a speech is. Completion, ahhh.

Conversely, having a strong, relevant ending boosts your credibility, satisfies your audience and increases their trust in you.

Your last words can crystallize your message and activate your audience.


Just end it!

Learn to observe what an ending feels like. Good comedians often end on a strong joke and good audience reaction – rather than the ending they planned. They are attuned to the opportunity of closing on a high note.

They become experts at endings. You can too.

I watched a much-loved sports legend capture an audience for 30 minutes at a conference. Great stories with a lesson or two from an icon. At one point it felt like the talk was coming to an end and I remember thinking ‘Good work. Tidy speech’.

But he was enjoying himself so much he kept talking. More stories and more wisdom. Unfortunately it ruined his talk. There was no structure to his stories now and we didn’t know how to process his random points of wisdom.

Do you see what can happen? Even when you engage your audience, not having a clear ending can effect their perception of the WHOLE presentation.

“How was the speech?”



Options to end a speech and engage them:

1.Plan the final message first.

Plan to end a speech by establishing your take-home message at the very start of your planning. Think of it as the first thing you plan and last thing you say.

Write it down, but in the words you would say when talking. So many people write in ‘corporate speak’ which doesn’t flow comfortably when it comes out of your mouth. Picture your audience and craft a 1 or 2 sentence message you want them to take away.

Example: “This product will save you money by…” or “We are where we need to be with this month’s sales targets because…” or “There are 2 reasons why this project is needed. Firstly X, secondly Y.”


2. End a speech with a statement, not a question.

Upward inflection is a question. Downward inflection is a statement. A question and/or upward inflection imply there is more coming. So it doesn’t work well to end.

And when you know you have a strong ending, you automatically speak with certainty – which makes it easier to add impact with your voice and emphasise your message.


3. Give them a sign

Give your audience a signal that the end is coming to prime them for your memorable end.

For example: Face the audience. Take a big breath or long pause before your final statement. Say something like; ‘To wrap up,’ ‘In conclusion’ or ‘Here’s what to do next’.

This sets their mind up for your memorable statement to end a speech.


4. End a speech by telling them what to DO

Many speakers are hoping their audience will take action, but they fail to ask for it. If you want your audience to do something you better say it, end a speech with a call-to-action or show them how-to steps.

For example: “Allocate a budget to fund stage 2 of the project so we can ensure benefits X, Y, Z” or “We need you to give us feedback within 24 hours…”


5. Refer back to an earlier point in your presentation

A Top-and-Tail is a term we used in radio for placing an ad or promo at the start and end of a break. The top-and-tail leverages the mind’s response to structure in your presentation as well. At the start you provide a quote, example, story, a shocking fact or figure that emphasises the need for change etc. Then you repeat this at the end and it comes to life because the content of your talk has given it greater meaning.

A Title Close is where you give your speech a provocative title that encapsulates your message. Your presentation fleshes out your argument. Then, use the title of your speech as your closing words to stir your audience and embed your message.


6. Blank the screen

If you’re using slides, consider blanking the screen (using the B key) which changes the mood of the room and refocuses the audience on you as you deliver your vivid message.


The holy grail of communication

The holy grail of communication is a transferable message.

It can create word of mouth momentum that can make or break the success of a project.

The ultimate test of your message: would the key members of your audience repeat it to their friends or colleagues?

Test your message out loud and see if you can ‘hear’ them repeating it. Does it flow from their lips? If it does, you know you’ve got a powerful end to your presentation. Could they recall your message a day later? A week later? Could they repeat it to their colleagues in the big meeting next month when they actually make the decision??

This is what you’re speaking for; message recall.

You are there to get a message across that can be recalled later, and if don’t end a speech well, you jeopardize the recall.


If you’d like to develop your presentation skills, consider:

Want to be a great speaker? Get the kindle ebook from What’s Your Message? Public Speaking with Twice the Impact, Using Half the Effort




  1. 2. Finish with a statement, not a question.
    Upward inflection is a question. Downward inflection is a statement. A question and/or upward inflection imply there is more coming. So it doesn’t work well to end.
    And when you know you have a strong ending, you automatically speak with certainty – which makes it easier to add impact with your voice and emphasise your message.

    Don’t really agree with the above. If you are ending on a question, it does not mean there is more coming. A rhetorical question leaves your audience with something to think about. A direct address within the question could also call upon the audience to act. A statement is not always the best way to go

    • Hi Fatima,

      Thanks for your comment. You are right, of course. Finishing with a message statement rather than a question is a guideline, not a *rule*. There are many ways to impact your audience. One way of getting people to take action, for example, might be to end a speech with “So, what are you going to do to help this problem…?”

      The reason I recommend ending with a message statement is that I’ve seen many speakers end on rhetorical questions like, “So, why wouldn’t you get on board with this idea”, or “How could you say no to this project?”. Not only do they miss the opportunity of embedding a clear message in the mind of the audience, they can provoke some people to actually come up with reasons ‘why not’.

      Ending with a message statement is such a consistently powerful way to end speeches and presentations – for any subject matter – that I always suggest it as the first option. However, as always, you know your audience and speaking goals better than I or any other speaking coach, so make your own call.

      Best wishes and thanks again.


  2. You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be really one thing which I believe I’d by no means understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and very huge for me.
    I am looking forward to your subsequent put up, I’ll try to get
    the hold of it!

  3. Hello!

    In a couple of weeks I will be competing in a public speaking competition.

    I have everything but an ending.

    It needs to be of impact and needs to leave the audience feeling emotion.

    I am struggling and would love some help!

  4. Hey great post. I hope it’s alright that I shared this on my
    FB, if not, no issues just tell me and I’ll remove it.
    Either way keep up the great work.

  5. Emma Fraser says

    I have always ended my speech strongly, and then say “Thank you for listening.”


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