Begin With the End in Mind


The following is a guest article written by Chuck Garcia, the founder of Climb Leadership International, an executive coaching firm that focuses on teaching skills related to public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. Chuck formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management.

Most Americans speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, which means most of the words you say will be forgotten. If all goes well, people will remember some key themes, or something you that spoke directly to them—it resonated. However, one thing is certain when you stand and deliver a presentation: no matter how long your speech, the audience will never forget how you make them feel.

Consequently, be conscious as you prepare your speech to how it will end. Many speakers don’t harness that powerful tool—they don’t guide the audience to the perfect spot where they deliver a clear call to action. Take the opportunity to lead them where you want them — leave them struck with awe, inspiration, admiration, wanting more, etc. No more, “Ya know, that’s all I got.”


The first commandment of my Ten Commandments of Great Communicators is focused on the importance of the Primacy and Recency Effect. Or the beginning and end of any presentation. Movies start and end with a bang. Commercials begin with a hook and leave you with an offer. Concerts open and close with a band’s best songs. The end is just as important as the beginning. And the close is your call-to-action, the chance to succinctly address the question as to why it was worth everyone’s time to listen to your speech.

What is the best way to make the audience feel at the start? Deliver the unexpected. Use an ice-breaker exercise when the audience least expects it. I like to do an exercise called “I, Me, Mine.” Ask the audience to separate into pairs. Have each couple stand and begin a conversation about their weekend plans. The first person to say “I,” “me,” or “mine” sits down. Watch the dynamic of the room and see how quickly people begin to take their seats. The prevailing theme is that when you speak to an audience, it is never about you. It is about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It is an effective way to model your approach to show an audience you care about them. It’s also a lot of fun while challenging everyone to think differently.

Here are three ways to deliver a “knock-out punch” to conclude your presentation:  

1) Sometimes I summarize what I just said, but usually I ask someone in the audience to condense key takeaways. Without disclosing it to the audience, you can call on a “plant” (someone in the audience that you’ve prepared for this prior to the speech to provide the summary). The dialogue with him or her acts as an “icebreaker” and works effectively to bring others into the discussion. Or you can call on an individual you don’t know who has been paying close attention throughout the speech — someone who makes frequent eye contact with you, sits on the edge of his or her chair, or is taking copious notes. “Tell me, John Doe,” I’ll ask an engaged listener in the crowd, “from everything that you’ve heard today, what’s one takeaway you have gleaned from this presentation?” John will likely say, “Here’s what I’m thinking . . .” and communicate a few ideas. By calling on people in the audience, you’re showing that you want to involve others. You are asking them questions and care about their response. You want their opinion. People appreciate the effort and remember that long after the speech is over.

2) Use some stagecraft. Try asking a question but don’t answer it right away. “I’ve said that we need to exceed our normal sales quota for this month. Can we do it?” Let the statement hang in the air for a bit. See what everyone’s reaction is. Look around. Who’s on board and who is not? And then let that awkward silence work in your favor by urging people to ask themselves, “Why isn’t he talking?” Build that suspense and watch them hang on.

3) Close the loop. Consider bringing your audience full circle back to where you started. If you opened with an unusual fact or used a visual, try referencing your opening tactic in the close. It’s a way to remind people of how you caught their attention earlier — which is a positive memory — to guide them to the destination. When all is said and done, the impact of your presentation will be reinforced if you are able to tie your powerful, attention-grabbing opening with a compelling and memorable call-to-action. Your goal is not only to compel your audience to listen; but to answer the question, “What do I want my audience to think, feel, or do, when this speech is over?”

You can reach him at

Chuck Garcia is the founder of Climb Leadership International and coaches executives worldwide on public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. His clients include many of the world’s best and biggest companies. He is a motivational speaker, Amazon bestselling author of A Climb to the Top, and a Columbia University faculty member. Chuck is also a passionate and accomplished mountaineer who has scaled peaks all over the world. He formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management. He is a graduate of Syracuse University. Learn more by visiting


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Mike Mayhew is one of the leading experts on the investment research industry. In addition to founding Integrity Research, Mike is on the board of directors of Investorside Research Association, the non-profit trade association for the independent research industry, and a frequent speaker on research industry trends and developments. Mike has over thirty years of research industry experience. Email:

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