Introductions and Conclusions

By Warren Sandmann, Ph.D.
Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN


After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  • List and describe the four functions of an introduction
  • List and describe the common types of attention getters
  • Describe and implement strategies for preparing introductions
  • List and describe the four functions of a conclusion
  • List and describe common types of conclusions
  • Describe and implement strategies for preparing conclusions
  • Apply chapter concepts in review questions and activities

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction
  • Functions of Introductions
    • Gain Attention and Interest
    • Gain Goodwill
    • Clearly State the Purpose
    • Preview and Structure the Speech
  • Attention-Getting Strategies
    • Tell a Story
    • Refer to the Occasion
    • Refer to Recent or Historical Events
    • Refer to Previous Speeches
    • Refer to Personal Interest
    • Use a Startling Statistic
    • Use an Analogy
    • Use a Quotation
    • Ask a Question
    • Use Humor
  • Preparing the Introduction
    • Construct the Introduction Last
    • Make it Relevant
    • Make it Succinct
    • Write it Out Word for Word
  • Functions of Conclusions
    • Prepare the Audience for the end of the speech
    • Present Any Final Appeals
    • Summarize and Close
    • End with a Clincher
    • Appeals and Challenges
  • Composing the Conclusion
    • Prepare the Conclusion
    • Do Not Include any New Information
    • Follow the Structure
  • Conclusion
  • Review Questions and Activities
  • Glossary
  • References



Man giving a speech.

“Imagine Cup 2012” by ImagineCup. CC-BY.

First impressions count. Carlin Flora, writing in Psychology Today, recounts an experiment in which people with no special training were shown 20- to 32-second video clips of job applicants in the initial stages of a job interview. After watching the short clips, the viewers were asked to rate the applicants on characteristics including self-assurance and likability—important considerations in a job interview. These ratings were then compared with the findings from the trained interviewers who spent 20 minutes or more with the job applicants. The result: The 20- to 32- second ratings were basically the same as the ratings from the trained interviewers.[1]

When we stand in front of an audience, we have very little time to set the stage for a successful speech. As seen from the example above, audience members begin evaluating us immediately. What we sometimes forget since we are so focused on the words we have to say is that we are being evaluated even before we open our mouths.

He has the deed half done who has made a beginning. – Horace

  1. Flora, C. (May-June 2004). The onceover you can trust: First impressions. Psychology Today37(3), 60–64.