I heard a great story from my pastor a few weeks back when he was first starting to preach. There was an older man who attended the church and had a ton of experience in sales, marketing, finance, real estate…you name it. Most importantly, he was a great communicator. My pastor pulled him aside after one of his sermons and asked the older man to let him know honestly if he hits his close or not with future sermons.
True to his word, after every Sunday sermon, the man would walk past, shake my pastor’s hand and say ‘You hit it great today’ or ‘Missed it by 5 minutes’ or ‘Undersold it’. He gave great feedback that helped my pastor become a better speaker.
What was it that George Costanza said on Seinfeld? “Showmanship….always go out on a high note.” Comedians do this better than anyone because they know if they have the audience rolling in laughter, they will feel good and remember that feeling and hopefully who the comedian is. Speakers need to have that same attitude when it comes to a presentation. Never underestimate the value of the close. Too often in my public speaking classes, students give a brilliant speech and then realize they only have 10 seconds to wrap it up. They rush their ending and it downgrades the entire speech. It’s like the rug gets ripped out from where we are standing.
When practicing and planning for a presentation, leave plenty of time for the close. This is your opportunity to connect one last time with the audience. Give them an emotional tone they will never forget, involve the crowd in an activity, have them verbally respond, stand, or deliver your lines with gusto and energy that will pierce them. If you hit it right, you’ll know it…the audience will know it…and your message will have legs well past that moment.