There’s a moment in every speech when the audience can smell the barn.
The break is 10 minutes away, the bathroom is calling, and you are about to wrap up.
I know it too and for too many years I would wind down the end of my speech, instead of winding it up.
If you really want to create change and motivate people to action, don’t end your speech with a dead white guy quote. It won’t help.
Instead, you need to structure your close like you’re making a sale: behind door A is the break, distractions and no commitment. Behind door B are solutions, commitment and better results.
Your job is to get them to take door B.
(See my post about The One Thing Question and learn how to know if they bought door B.)
Crafting the perfect close
A good close needs a summary. It could be verbal and quick or bullet points on slides, but the goal is head-nodding agreement that you nailed the problem and slayed the beast.
Next, they need to announce their commitment. That’s where I use a two-step peer-to-peer coaching exercise (works like a hot damn).
Enter peer-to-peer coaching
You want them to announce their commitment, but the audience is too large and you don’t have enough time.
First, get them to record their commitment. You could use a simple 3×5 index card, handouts, a mail-back commitment form – anything except the napkin from lunch. One way to prime this exercise is to say “Please finish this sentence: The one change I am most excited about making is….”
Step 2 is for them to turn to a partner and, one at a time, announce their commitment. I usually help them decide who goes first (it’s always wise to remove any unnecessary uncomfortableness), like: shortest hair, birthday closest to today, tallest, etc.
Next, I instruct the person in the coaching role to listen, and then only ask open-ended questions (I give some quick examples). And I only give them 1 minute each.
This exercise never fails – the audience feels good, the energy is up and now you’ve got social proof that your solutions work (and you’re a genius.)
And you are a genius, right?