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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Ask for the Order

A good sales pitch will not only ask people to order, but also tell them how. When you buy a car, the dealer explains the auto's features, points out why it is better than the one you already own, and then tells you how you can pay for it.

Speakers, as you now know, are also in the selling business, and the conclusion is the time to ask for the order. Nothing will happen if you don't ask. And you ask by telling your audience what you want it to do with the information you've presented and how it can take that action. An effective speaker presenting a central idea ends by pointing out to those in his audience exactly what is needed from them to put that idea to work. For example, if you have been talking about on-the-job safety, end with an emotional and specific appeal showing why safety is important to the people in front of you, and how they can ensure safe operations by applying the information you've presented. If you've been persuading them to give blood, tell them where. And make it sound easy to get there.

Getting a visible demonstration of support is an effective technique. If you shared 10 reasons why your staff must operate their vehicles in a specific manner, end by telling them how lives could be saved, including theirs. End by asking, then and there, for a show of hands from those committed to the new procedures. This is not the time to be shy, but to be rousing.

Action doesn't always have to be literal. If you simply want the people in your audience to mull over your ideas, tell them this is what you want them to do. Summarize your important thoughts in sequence; in doing so, you give them a verbal pocket digest they can carry away with them. If you fail to ask for a specific action, you may end up giving a wonderful speech that builds up to nothing.

One way to zero in on a dynamic closing is to ask yourself, "What do I want the members of my audience to think about as they leave?" Remember that the conclusion is not a second chance: If you've failed to get your ideas across in the body of your talk, it's too late now. You've presented your message; now is the time to fix that message in your listeners' minds.


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