Well the hard work is done and the Body of your presentation is complete – all that needs to be done now is to “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em” and of course “Tell ‘em what it was you told ‘em” – in other words the opening and the conclusion. Let’s look at some techniques to grab you audience’s attention right from the start.
Quotations For a speech about self-awareness the quotation “To be or Not to be” could be woven in as an effective opening statement. Or if your topic is responsibilities versus rights, perhaps JFK’s quote about “Ask not what your country can do for you …” may be an appropriate opening. You might have discovered a really thought provoking quote during your research – if so open with it. When you restate it later the audience will have a sense of recognition.
Questions Always a thought-provoking opening. A question immediately involves the audience, as the general response to being asked a direct question is to consider your answer. For instance, “What would you do if someone you loved asked you to help them to die?” as an introduction to a speech concerning euthanasia would make the audience consider their own position carefully. However, when using this opening technique it is important to allow the audience TIME to consider their answer, so after posing the question, PAUSE!
Personal Statements If these are short and sharp, they can be very effective attention ‘grabbers”. Such dogmatic statements as “I hate Rhubarb” or “In my opinion those who shoot ducks should be re-incarnated – as a duck!” These kind of statements are flexible enough to be able to be worked into almost any topic – but remember, they must lead somewhere, and they should be a way of introducing your main theme or topic.
So we can get the audience focussed on the main theme or topic, and we have our carefully crafted body of the speech at our finger tips. All we have to do now is close with confidence.
The closing part of your presentation is where you are able to reinforce your arguments, and tie all the points together in one strong and powerful conclusion. This should be the time when you encourage your audience to consider something… “doesn’t this make you think that in a country as rich in resources as we are…” to change their opinion, “perhaps what I have said will make you think again about just lying around in the sun this summer”; or to do something, “so let us all make a resolution to recycle all our household waste from now on!”
In the conclusion you repeat the aim of your speech, and if you have used one of the opening hints we have suggested, an excellent way to round out your topic is to return to the opening gambit. “Let us consider how JKF’s remarks can be useful in today’s society”. “Perhaps your answer to my opening question would be different now” You could also finish with a return to your speech title; in a speech entitled Justice or Law” your conclusion could be a reiteration of your three main points, and then daringly “considering the difficulties in understanding some of the recent legal decisions, perhaps it is natural to believe that Justice and Law have very little in common!”
The conclusion of your presentation IS NOT the place to introduce any new material. Now you have the information you have researched and well organised to support and convince your audience of the logic of your ideas. What to do now? Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. Check the timings – it is important that you do not run over your allotted time. You may have to cut material from the body until you meet your time. You are now fully prepared to deliver an informative and interesting presentation; and to receive your well earned riotous applause!
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