Introductions and Conclusions
In a speech, you want to start strong and finish strong! Your introduction should hook your audience and inform them of what is to come during your presentation, while your conclusion summarizes everything you have just discussed and should end with something memorable. Below, we will discuss the necessary elements for creating an effective and engaging introduction and conclusion.
Attention Getter: This will be the first thing your audience hears you say! Some methods to gain the attention of your audience include: tell a shocking statistic related to your topic, ask a rhetorical question, use humor, or tell a real or hypothetical story that relates to your topic. For example, "according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6.7% of U.S. adults will experience major depressive disorder this year" is one potential attention getter for an informative speech about depression. There are many ways to gain your audience's attention, so pick what feels right for you and your topic! By grabbing their attention right from the beginning, the audience will be interested in what you have to say and actively listen throughout the rest of the presentation.
Self/Topic Intro: Let the audience know who you are and what you are here to talk about. This is also a great place to let them know what makes you a reliable and trustworthy source on this topic. You can help build your credibility as a speaker by letting them know about your experience with or connection to the topic right off the bat.
Statement of Purpose: Inform your audience about the purpose behind you giving this presentation. Think about what your end goal is. Do you want them to know more about a topic or take a certain position on an issue? For example, going back to our previous example, one might say "the purpose of this presentation is to inform you all about depression."
Thesis Statement/Central Idea: Essentially, the thesis statement or central idea of a speech is a one sentence summary of your entire presentation. Instead of simply listing the main points of your speech, think about what the core of your presentation really is. As a practice exercise, think of your favorite movie. How would you summarize that movie in a single sentence? That is the thesis statement/central idea of the movie. Do the same thing for your speech.
Relevance: Why does the audience care about this topic? Letting your audience know why this topic matters to them gives them a reason to listen.
Preview of Main Points: The last thing to include in your introduction is the preview of your main points. List your points in the same order they appear in your speech. By previewing your main points for your audience, you provide them with a road map to your speech and help them to see where you all will be going during the course of your presentation.
Pro Tip: It is much easier to write the introduction after you've established the main points in the body of the speech.
Review Statement of Purpose: Now that you have presented the body of your speech, remind your audience of what your goal was. An example of this could be, "after hearing this speech you should now know more about depression."
Review Main Points: Re-list the main points that you have discussed during your presentation. Doing so helps the audience to be reminded of everything that they have learned during your speech.
Closure: End with something memorable. Whether you use a quote, story, or statistic, take some time to think about what you want to leave on the minds of the audience. Consider revisiting the attention getter you used during your introduction and come full circle.
Pro Tip: You may feel as though you are being repetitive when you preview and review your main points. Don't worry, you're doing it right. Audiences remember things better when they hear them multiple times.