Chapter 6: Introductions and Conclusions
“Raj, you look like you’re playing a video game the way you hit the keys so fast on the remote control during the commercials.”
“Well, Sarah, I use the commercials as time to search for other shows that I might want to see. Don’t you ever ‘channel surf ’?”
“Sure, but not all the time. And I usually give the next show a reasonable chance to grab my attention. How can you know if you like a show if you only watch it for ten or fifteen seconds?”
“Well, I figure that the commercials only last for two minutes, and I want to see eight or ten other stations to see what else might be on. I can make up my mind very quickly.”
Are you a channel surfer like Raj? Do you give the next station a reasonable chance of capturing your attention? Do you “channel surf” in other areas of your life? Do you do a quick scan of a menu to make a meal choice, or do you think about all the items on the list? When you walk into a club, do you consider who you would like to get to know? Most people can make quick decisions as to what will interest them and are pretty good at it.
In planning your speeches and presentations, you need to capture your audience’s attention in the first few seconds, or they will “switch channels.” In your speech class or in other settings, few people will really be able to demand another speaker then and there, but they can mentally tune you out and not listen.
That is why the introduction of your speech is so crucial. We will help you understand the importance of your introduction and conclusion. What will you say to “set the stage” for your speech? How will you engage your audience? These are two of the four functions of your Introduction–capturing the audience’s attention and revealing your topic. You will also want to establish your credibility and preview your speech; in other words, give us a strong thesis and tell us what makes you the expert on this topic. You’ve got a much better chance of gaining your audience’s attention–and keeping it–if you start out strong.
It is equally important to finish strong. Do not falter at the finish line. If you have engaged your audience and helped them to connect to your speech throughout, make sure your conclusion is effective as well. Your audience wants to know that you’re nearing the end. They want you to recap your points, and finish with a “ta-da” moment–something memorable. This module will help you do just that.
Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:
- Explain the reasons an effective introduction and conclusion are important in planning and presenting a speech
- State the four essential parts of an effective introduction
- State the three essential parts of an effective conclusion
- Prepare and deliver a speech that incorporates the four elements of an effective introduction and the three elements of an effective conclusion
- Use transitions effectively to move from the introduction to the body of the speech
- Use transitions effectively to signal the ending of the speech
Remember those first few opening seconds are critical, so make your introduction spectacular. Ensure your audience is engaged and eager to hear your speech. Grab their attention and draw them in as you preview your ideas. Do not skimp on your closing. Just as an essay needs a concluding paragraph, your speech needs a well-crafted conclusion. A nice summary and a memorable ending can be the difference between an average speech and an awesome one–your audience will view you as polished and professional. Now that you have the introduction and the conclusion under control, the written part of your speech is just about complete. In the next module, we will discuss how your choice of words, phrases, and overall language usage will impact your speech.