Delivering a keynote speech is an exhilarating responsibility. It is up to you to set or reiterate the tone for an entire event, inspiring a potentially massive audience. This is no small feat–especially when done in less than an hour, under blinding lights, when you have just hopped off a plane. What’s one foolproof way to ensure you make a difference and achieve all the goals of your keynote? Prepare the best closing remarks possible.
In this piece we’re going to give you five implementable strategies you can use to nail your closing remarks every time you speak. And before you ask “what are closing remarks? Why do they matter?” Rest assured, we’ve got you covered.
Keep these tips in your back pocket next time you’re preparing a speech and get ready to leave your audience inspired and motivated to put your words into action.
What are closing remarks?
Haven’t heard the term “closing remarks” before and are wondering what the heck it means? Are you confused by how we’re using those words? Let’s get a few things straight.
“Closing remarks” generally refers to one of two things: 1) the concluding section of a talk, or 2) the speech that ends an event or conference. In this piece, we’re talking about closing remarks in the context of #1– the last part of your speech before you walk off stage (or take questions). But if you landed here because you’re delivering “closing remarks” (the final talk) at a big event coming up, our strategies will help you write amazing closing remarks for your closing remarks!
In short, we’re talking today about how you wrap up your talk. You might be thinking that how you open your talk is the most important part of the composition and preparation process–after all, you want to make a good first impression. Important as those first few words you utter on stage may be, closing remarks are arguably even more important. In fact, TSL podcast guest Shane Sams even recommends writing your closing remarks before you write the rest of your speech! Listen to his appearance on our podcast here and check out other episodes of the show right here.
Closing remarks are the last words your audience hears from you, so it’s important to a) maintain audience engagement and b) say something actually worth listening to. According to our founder Grant Baldwin, every good talk answers two questions–so what? and now what? With the five strategies we’re giving you today, you’ll be prepared to answer those questions in your closing remarks in a way that successfully sticks in your listeners’ brains!
1. Close open loops
Opening and closing loops throughout your talk is a great way to maintain your audience’s attention. Opening a loop means raising a question in your audience’s mind. This draws them into your talk as they listen for an answer to that question. Resolving the question later on “closes the loop” and voila! They’ve been paying close attention that whole time!
Opening and closing loops doesn’t have to be perfectly linear. If you have three or four open loops, your audience will probably be able to follow along if you close one and open another. But if you close one and open ten before you close another, you’ll lose them. Think of it like browser tabs–if you have too many open, you forget what they are!
Most of the time, you will open and close small loops to illustrate supporting points throughout your talk. You will also likely open a couple big overarching loops at the start of your talk. Things like “what’s the point of this industry trend” or “this is the most pertinent challenge to our profession.” Your closing remarks are the perfect time to close those loops to tightly wrap up your talk. Closing open loops reminds your audience of the points you made at the beginning (when you opened the loop) and offers resolution. Ideally, they are left secure in the new information they have acquired and excited to implement it!
An example of closing remarks aligned with this strategy could go something like this. You start your talk with “I’m going to tell you a crazy story today.” Your audience perks up, excited for the story. Then, you dive into the overall content and message of your talk. Then, you drive your point home at the end with the story you referenced at the beginning (see section #3 for more tips on storytelling in closing remarks)
2. Give implementable solutions.
In TSL founder Grant Baldwin’s book The Successful Speaker, he gives a few examples of different structures you can use to create your talk. One of those structures involves presenting a problem and offering the solution. If you structure your talk this way, closing remarks that package up the solution to a problem will come naturally. But even if your talk is structured differently–perhaps it’s a linear exposition of new information or a step-by-step presentation–offering solutions as you close could be the way to go.
Your closing remarks are the last thing your audience hears from you. If you’re giving the final keynote, it’s the last thing they hear at the entire event. This means they should contain the most important information in your talk. If you give your audience a lot of information, they will be left wondering: “how do I implement what I just heard?” Don’t leave them hanging! Give them some solid implementable steps to take once they leave the auditorium so your talk isn’t just empty words.
For example of closing remarks that eloquently showcase this strategy, look no further than the esteemed speaker Mel Robbins. In her famous TED talk “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” Mel closes with ideas for how her audience can practice her “5-second rule” at the upcoming cocktail hour.
In general, it’s wise to offer long-term solutions as well as short-term ideas as Mel does. If you can equip your audience with the tools to fix their problems not just now, but far into the future, you are adding incredible value to your lives. And speakers who add value are the ones who get booked and paid to speak again and again.
You can listen to an in-depth speech breakdown of Mel’s talk by TSL founder Grant Baldwin here.
3. Tell a Story
Storytelling is one of the most compelling tools in any speaker’s toolkit. Stories about yourself are especially powerful. Even if you haven’t lived a very exciting life, when you tell a personal story it comes alive for your audience in a special way. If you have a powerful story that illustrates the point you’re trying to make, it deserves a spot in your closing remarks.
It’s actually scientifically proven that people pay more attention to stories. If a few eyes have glazed over during the course of your talk, telling a story is a great way to bring those lost sheep back into the fold. If your field uses a lot of jargon or you have been presenting data, charts, and numbers, a story lightens the mood while conveying important information.
When you close your talk with a story, you should give a one-liner explanation of how it relates to your point. (If you’re positive that the story speaks for itself, get outside feedback from friends and family first to confirm this.) Otherwise, listeners might get caught up in the details and remember the story but not your message. As we mentioned above, using a story to close a final open loop is a great way to release tension and give your audience closure. You can listen to our founder Grant chat with Mike Pacchione about these storytelling tips and more here.
4. End with a quote
Ending your talk with a quote can be tricky. You don’t want to bore your audience with something they’ve heard a million times, nor do you want to distract them from your message with an obscure quote that they struggle to remember. However, If someone else has said something that coordinates with your message, why reinvent the wheel?
Many motivational speakers use quotes to their advantage in their closing remarks. J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech in 2005 is a great example of utilizing a famous quote without going off track. One of the overarching themes of her speech is the concept of human goodness and the urge to better the lives of others. As she draws to a close, she cites the Roman author Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” Then, just in case her point isn’t obvious, she ends with: “I wish you all very good lives.”
You don’t have to be delivering a Harvard Commencement Speech to integrate a powerful quote into your closing remarks. If somebody’s words helped teach you the same lesson you’re trying to teach your audience, by all means share them!
5. Sell yourself
It might sound tacky, but the closing remarks of your talk are a great opportunity to pitch other services you offer, like coaching, consulting, and courses. Yes, you can even pitch your speaking business. Selling yourself onstage is vital to getting new clients during the scrappy and ambitious stage of your speaking career.
This tactic is assuredly dependent upon the context of your talk, and you should always check with your event planner before making a sales pitch.
Selling yourself falls flat if you haven’t offered any value. But you can’t pack all your expertise into a one-hour keynote. Your talk should be able to stand on its own while leaving the most ambitious and inspired listeners wanting more. The value you can add might be enough for some audience members, but you can encourage others to reach out or talk to you afterward to learn more about how you can continue helping them!
As you prepare and rehearse your speech, keep in mind that you may have to do a little improv once in a while. Yes, even for your closing remarks. Whether you run out of time or have to fill extra time, stay on top of your ability to improvise and keep these five tips in mind. For example, if you offer a strong solution to a pertinent challenge in your industry but realize you have to fill a few more minutes, you can tell a story of how you overcame that challenge using that exact solution. Alternatively, if you find yourself running out of time, you can make a pitch for joining your email list or hiring you as a coach to find out more information (again, only do this after adding value).
Ultimately, using one or a combination of these five strategies will ensure that your closing remarks really stick with your audience. If you need help crafting your next speech, get in touch with us here.
What are closing remarks?
Closing remarks make up the conclusion to your talk. It’s where everything comes together and you reiterate the overarching message.
What is the best closing remarks strategy?
The best closing remarks are those that leave your audience empowered to apply your talk to their own lives. You can do that by closing thematic loops that you opened earlier in your speech, offering implementable solutions, leaving your audience with an inspiring quote, telling a story, or letting them know about your other professional services.
What are examples of closing remarks?
J.K. Rowling’s 2005 Harvard Commencement Speech and Mel Robbins’s TED talk offer great examples of closing remarks that use these strategies.