How to Connect With Your Audience – Part 3

Learn 8 easy tricks to keep your listeners’ attention at the end of your story.

Lisa B. Marshall,
July 14, 2011
Episode #125

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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.