Book-Ending Your Speech — Opening and Closing a Talk

To explain the concept of book-ending your speech, consider the role of book-ends on a shelf.  Although they may look wonderful and accent the decor of the room, their job is not just to look nice!  Normally, their job is to support the books and keep them from falling over.  So it is with a good opening and closing for your speech.  Their job’s are to support the body of the talk and keep it
from falling apart. 

Although you could use non-matching bookends on your shelf,
MATCHING book-ends are much more striking, have more class and
provide their support with more flair.  Here are some ideas for
using matching book-ends for your speech.

1.  Humor.  I often open and close a speech with humor that
matches.  It may match in subject content.  The humor-closer may be
a delayed topper for the opening joke (not normally the placement
for the topper, as it would normally be placed immediately after
the primary joke).  Or, it may just match the theme of the opening
humor.  Let’s say you opened your talk with a funny line about
dogs.  Then close it with something funny about dogs.  I once
opened a comedy routine with a joke about 800 toll-free numbers.
So I closed it with a different joke about 800 telephone numbers.
Take a look at Observational Humor Case Study #6 for an example of
opening and closing a humor routine with the technique of

2.  A story.  You could open a speech with a story.  You could just
tell part of the story, not the whole thing.  This is actually a
good speakers technique:  “Let’s interrupt the story for a moment
while we take a side trip.”  In this case, you could choose to
complete the story at the end of your speech.

3.  Music.  You may open and close the speech with the same song,
maybe using different verses.

4.  Magic.  You may open and close a talk with magic.  I’ve often
used this as a technique with my comedy-magic.

5.  A quote.  You could open and close with the same quote.  Or a
different quote from the same person.  This could be an especially
effective way to support the central theme of your talk.

6.  The Past/The Future.  You could open with “this is what our
association used to look like” and close with “this is what our
association will look like in the future.”  Or using this technique,
make reference to the talk which preceded yours and how it relates
to your talk.  Then at the end of your speech, make reference to
the talk which follows your talk, and how they both relate to the
central theme of the conference.

7.  A Prop.  Use a prop at the start of your talk.  Come back to
the prop at the end.  Or maybe at the closing of the talk, give the
prop away as a prize to someone in the audience.

8.  A Challenge.  Open with a challenge or problem facing the
audience.  Close with the solution and call-for-action.

9.  Tie The Ribbon.  Get the idea?  Relating the opening and
closing of the talk is like wrapping your speech in a nice ribbon
and tying a bow to make it a total gift for the audience.  It looks
professional.  It’s memorable.  It helps you to deliver a message
that connects and makes a difference.