“The end of THE END is the best place to begin THE END, because if you read THE END from the beginning of the beginning of THE END to the end of the end of THE END, you will arrive at the end.” ~Lemony Snicket
As hard as it is to read that quote, it’s not nearly as hard as writing a great ending to a message. Or at least that’s how I feel!
I love starting with a personal story, compelling the audience to connect through felt need, teaching through God’s truth and coming up with a transformational challenge. It’s when I have to wrap it all up that I begin to falter. Just this morning I was preparing for an event this weekend by reading over a message. All was well with just a few tweaks here and there until I got to the end.
This message isn’t just any message. It’s my testimony message, “The Untying of the Straight-Laced Girl”. It’s the story of my heart’s transformation and the power of Jesus in my life. So it shouldn’t have a weak, wishy-washy ending, should it? I want something that stirs women’s hearts and draws them to the Captor of my soul.
How do we construct great endings for our messages? I’m still learning, but here are some things I’ll focus on as I write a stronger one for “The Untying of a Straight-Laced Girl”.
- End with hope–So much of our messages center around giving our audience the “how to”, but we have to leave them with “want to”. How will their life improve if they walk out the truths you’ve presented? We need to end with inspiration so our audiences walk out inspired, full of hope and ready to make a change. Painting a picture–showing instead of telling–through story is often a great way to end.
- End with a crafted sentence– A couple of years ago at She Speaks Intensive, our participants were videoed doing a three minute message at the end of the conference. It was a stressful situation for everyone, and toward the end of our preparation time, the freak out started. (I could completely understand!) I found some very profound words coming out of my mouth, “You need to CRAFT and MEMORIZE three sentences: your opening sentence, your sticky statement and your closing sentence. Everything else can be fairly fluid.” As these words flowed out of my mouth, I thought, “Great advice, Amy. Why don’t you try it?!” Now I do! I carefully work on and memorize a strong hook for the beginning and a memorable sentence for the end. It has helped tremendously to be able to start and end with confidence.
- End with emotion and inflection– Years ago, I was talking with my friend Rachel who teaches communications at a university. She shared that her classes analyze TED Talks to find what makes a great speech. They found effective endings create spontaneous applause. What a great insight! I know from experience that lots of my endings created a puzzled pause instead of spontaneous applause. There was an obvious, “Is she finished?” in my audiences eyes. I’m learning to really FEEL my end, to let that through in my voice and to use inflection to indicate the ending. If you’re not sure about how to do this, experiment a little yourself and start listening to great endings.
Michaela, the wonder-intern, has included lots of great additional information about endings on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’d love for you to join us there!