What is a Persuasive Speech?
First, let’s review. A persuasive presentation is a speech that’s made in an effort to influence a specific outcome. Your goal is to persuade your audience to believe in your cause and to take action to support you. Political speeches and fundraising speeches are great examples of persuasive presentations. In a persuasive speech, your final words – your closing– are the most important.
Don’t Cut Your Conclusion Short
Before I show you how to craft a persuasive ending, you need to know what not to do. Speakers often work so hard on the introduction and body of the speech that the conclusion is an afterthought.
Have you ever heard a speaker say something like this?
“Well, it looks like I’m about out of time. If you want to know more, I’ll stick around for a few minutes.”
“Are there any questions? No, it doesn’t look like it. Thanks for coming.”
Your conclusion should signal the end, but it is not just a final sentence. As a general rule of thumb, it should be about 10% – 15% of your speech. In a persuasive speech, you use this time to summarize the benefits of taking a specific action. If you told stories in the body of the presentation, now is the time to remind the audience of the main stories you told.
If you choose to signal the end with the words “in conclusion” (and I don’t recommend this), make sure you mean it. Don’t ramble on for another 30 minutes or add new points to your talk.
A Call to Action and a Solution
In a persuasive presentation, the closing words are where you drive your point home. If the audience walks away with one thing, it should be your closing call to action. This is when you deliver the specifics of what it is that you want your audience to do—to be part of the solution. Be passionate. And carefully choose how aggressive you’d like to be.
Let’s say you’re making a speech to friends and donors of a non-profit organization you represent. This is your annual fundraising drive. Without generous donations, you won’t make your budget goals for the year. The intro and body of your talk described the ways your nonprofit has provided support and what your goals are for the future. Again, your closing is a specific call to action and a solution. For example: