How to Connect With Your Audience – Part 3
Learn 8 easy tricks to keep your listeners’ attention at the end of your story.
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So far in this series on How to Connect With Your Audience, we’ve talked about 10 ways to effectively engage with your audience when telling a story. We learned 4 tips for a great opening and 6 tricks for an engaging middle. If you can’t list the first 10 techniques, this may be a good time to go back and review because today, I’ll talk about the 8 ways to keep your listeners connected at the very end of your story.
Endings are similar to beginnings in the sense that both are intended to be thought- provoking and memorable. However, an ending should also be satisfying. In fact, the main goal of a story ending is to wrap up the middle action and to connect it to your theme or main point. I like to imagine the beginning as planting seeds with questions and memories and the ending as harvesting and tasting the fruit.
A typical boring end to a story is to quickly summarize. You’re not going to do that, right? Promise? Instead, try one of the following 8 easy ways to create juicy endings.
Tip #1 - End With a Reflection
A reflection is similar to a summary in that you reflect on what the main character did and felt, but in addition you include how your audience can apply the story.
For example, let’s say you’re making a sales presentation and you end with a case study or a testimonial. In this case, you can relate why the customer was reluctant to purchase your product at first and why he changed his mind in the end. Then paint a picture in the mind of your prospect how you would envision them using your product or service in a similar way.
For stories of change, often a reflection includes how you would you do it differently if you had the chance or how your listeners might act differently now that they’ve heard your story.
Tip #2 - End With a Hope or a Wish
Very closely related to a reflection ending, is a hope or wish ending. Your hope or wish could be for yourself – “I wish that I could have…” or “I hope that the next time I will…” Or your hope or wish can be for your audience -- “I hope the next time you consider…” or “My hope is for all of us to…” Generally, this type of ending is used in an inspirational presentation; perhaps by the CEO or VP at the annual sales meeting.
Tip #3 - End With a Lesson Learned
Similar to Tips 1 and 2 is the lesson learned or best practice ending. “What we learned from working with this customer was…” or “What I learned from this project was…” This type of ending is great for status meeting presentations or when you are trying to share your values, as in an interview.
Tip # 4 - End With a Quote
Another very easy way to end a story is with a quote. Choose a quote that summarizes the theme of your discussion. When speaking, be sure to choose short quotes, with words that can easily be understood by your audience. Save longer quotes for written stories. And remember: your quote doesn’t have to be literary. It can be from competitors, from leading experts, or from research.
Tip #5 - End by Returning to the Beginning
At times it is difficult to come up with a creative and effective ending. In these cases, I recommend simply returning back to the beginning of your story. Ask the question you started with again, or evoke the sounds or images from the very beginning of your story. This type of ending creates closure and can be a subtle but very powerful tool to connect with your audience.
Tip # 6 - End With a Question
[[AdMiddle]An alternate to Tip 5 is to end with a slightly different question from the one you began with or a completely new question. Rhetorical questions leave your audience thinking of your theme. However, you can also use a question or a series of questions to stimulate discussion and feedback.
Tip # 7 - End With a Punch Line
Some humorous or dramatic stories are successful with a punch line ending. Like being hit in the face, the line comes suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly, which is why it’s so effective.
I recently listened to Derek Silvers’ TED talk, entitled “Keep Your Goals To Yourself.” At the end of his talk, he asks the audience, “Next time you are tempted to tell someone your goal, what will you say…?” He pauses a moment and no one in the audience responds, then he says, “Exactly, well done.” That is a clever punch line ending and it reinforces the main idea.
Tip #8 - End With No Ending
One final technique is to stop your tale but not really end. That is, intentionally end your story without resolving one of your key points. The idea is to let one of your ideas hang, allowing your listeners to…
This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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