Thursday, June 24, 2010

ETR: On a High Note

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Issue No. 3049 - $1.00

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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How Do You Leave Your Audiences?
By Jason Holland

So you're comfortable with public speaking, don't mind giving presentations at work, and so forth. That's great. Now it's time to work on your exit. How do leave your audience with positive memories of your talk… or inspire them to take action?

In his essay today, Peter Fogel, a veteran corporate presenter (and stand up comic), reveals how to end your speeches on a high note.

"This is the way the world ends, / Not with a bang but a whimper."

T.S. Eliot

How to Effectively Close Any Speech or Presentation
By Peter Fogel

Effective public speaking isn't only about grabbing your audience at the beginning. The way you finish is crucial to the overall success of your speech.

For one thing,your final words are likely to be the ones your audience will remember for the longest time. More important, if you don't persuade them to take the action you want them to take -- perhaps to donate to a worthy cause or buy your back-of-the-room product -- you will have wasted your time.

Some speeches lend themselves to a humorous finish, while others require a more serious approach.

As a comedian, I'm all for leaving 'em laughing -- provided it's appropriate. If, for example, you were delivering a eulogy, that would usually not be a good time to try to be funny.

Usually, but not always. I'll never forget a funeral service many years ago for Dennis Wolfberg (a wildly funny friend of mine). With Jay Leno, Paul Reiser, and Jerry Seinfeld among those participating, there was LOTS of laughter. And Dennis wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

It's easier to go out with a bang when your audience responds with laughter and thunderous applause. You know you've made a strong impression on them and your speech will be remembered. They will be quoting you and talking about you around the water cooler for days.

An appreciative and happy audience also provides a great backdrop for you to take your final bow and leave the stage. It makes you look good and it makes you feel good.

But you can make a powerful impact on your audience by ending on a somber note too. Even if you had them rolling in the aisles throughout your very witty presentation, it shows that, frivolity aside, you take your topic seriously... and so should they.  

Inspire, Motivate, and Entertain Your Audience -- Always!

Keep in mind that a good speaker doesn't just talk to his audience. If he isn't there strictly to entertain, he is there to inspire, motivate, or lead. If your talk hasn't achieved much of that, you have only your closing statements left... so make the most of them.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Whet your audience's appetite at the beginning by starting to tell a story. But leave the rest of the story -- and the punch line -- for your big finish.

  • The title of your speech should summarize your main point in a memorable, catchy way. So if you can incorporate the title into your closing words, that will reinforce your message.

  • End with a humorous or meaningful quotation from somebody famous. There are many quotation websites on the Internet, and you will have no trouble finding something suitable.

  • Don't end abruptly. A hasty "Well, that's it from me, thanks for coming" and off you go is unprofessional. It tells your audience that you are inexperienced and/or unprepared.

  • Give your audience a signal that the end is near so they will pay attention to what you are about to say. If you were walking around with a hand-held mike, for instance, you could replace it in the stand. If you were reading from a book on the podium, you could shut it.

  • Involve your audience. Ask them to repeat something after you -- maybe a simple "commitment oath" you have written.

  • Congratulate your audience and wish them future success. Ask them to stand and applaud themselves for their achievements. (They may not be applauding you as you leave the stage, but it's still applause, at the right moment. And it will still make you look good and feel good.)

  • Issue your call to action. Tell your audience what you want them to do next and ask them to do it.

  • Lead them to whatever it is that you're selling. You might say, for example, "In about 10 minutes, you will find me at the back of the room, where I will be answering any questions you may have and autographing copies of my books and CDs."

Don't forget to thank your audience and the organizers of the event, of course -- but don't let your thank you be the last thing you say before leaving the stage. Choose your final words carefully. Like I said, that's what your audience is going to remember.

[Ed. Note: Peter "The Reinvention Guy" Fogel is a humorist, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association who has appeared on over 22 television shows. He delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting and marketing to corporation and associations across America and parts of Jersey.  As an information marketer he is also the creator of Peter Fogel's Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, or to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course, go to

Effective public speaking is just one of the skills you need to succeed in business and in life. As someone who worked closely with four billionaires as they made their fortunes, success mentor Bob Cox knows first-hand exactly what those skills are. In his program, you'll learn the wealth-attracting habits of the ultra-wealthy. You aren't born with these skills – they're learned. And you can learn them – and start attracting wealth yourself – in just 30 days. Check out The Billionaire in You here.]

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The Language Perfectionist: Ultimately, Don't Misuse This Word

By Don Hauptman

What's wrong with the following sentence (found in a pop music review)?

"If you affiliate in any way with the underground scene, you'd be remiss in not going to Lipgloss. It's the penultimate hipster haven in Denver...."

The reviewer clearly thinks Lipgloss is a cool club. But the word he wants isn't penultimate -- which means "next to last."

This error is frequently committed. For some reason, people assume that penultimate means perfect, quintessential, the best. But "next to last" hardly conveys that meaning. It's also best to avoid ultimate as a superlative because it literally means "last in a series."

To convey a high opinion, you have a host of alternatives, including excellent, first-rate, superior, unequalled, and unparalleled.

Of course, if you really do mean "next to last," by all means say penultimate. The word is used correctly in this sentence:

"The penultimate chapter, titled 'Conservation,' offers seven case histories of fishes that are endangered or have become extinct...."

By the way, you might one day find occasion to use antepenultimate, which means "next to next to last."

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

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1 comment:

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