Purpose of a Speech Conclusion

Learning Objectives

Explain the purpose of a speech conclusion.

Just as the introduction is one of the most important aspects of a successful speech, so too is the conclusion. The primary recency effect is the idea that people are more likely to recall and formulate opinions based on the first and last pieces of information they listen to. While a well-crafted introduction and conclusion will not outweigh a poorly composed speech, the primary recency effect does place critical importance on a presentation’s introduction and conclusion.

President obama dropping the mic

Don’t end with a mic drop. It was funny when President Obama did it at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but it’s become a cliché since then. Plus, microphones are expensive, and they tend to break when dropped.

The purpose of a conclusion is to briefly summarize your speech, to leave the audience with a clear takeaway, and to signal the end of your speech. Ending a speech with “So…that’s it” or “OK, I’m done” is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to introduce a new idea in your conclusion. A conclusion must be clear, memorable, and brief. How brief? No more than 5–10% of the total speech. In that time, you must achieve three goals.

Goal 1: Review main points

A conclusion should include a clear review of the main points of the speech. The purpose is to remind the audience of the main ideas that were covered in the speech. To bolster recall, follow these two rules:

  1. Use the exact same language and name for each main point that was used in the overall preview from the introduction, avoiding the mention of any sub-points or digressions.
  2. Review the main points in the order in which they were presented.

Goal 2: Restate the topic

Repetition is a good thing in a speech. Just as you prepared them to listen to your speech in support of your thesis in your introduction, it is important to bring them back to the singular purpose and idea of your speech now that you have presented your key points and supporting ideas.

Goal 3: Provide a lasting thought

Your conclusion should clearly indicate the end of your speech. The last thing a speaker says should set the tone, motivation, or intrigue that the audience should take away from having listened to the presentation. To help you do so, the next page will outline useful attention-getting strategies for your conclusion.

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