Speech to Close an Event
As the ice-cream van, once lost behind a thronging kaleidoscopic snake of queuing people, now stands alone and the tombola stall boasts only shampoo bottles and garish ornaments to lure in the stragglers, the time has come to draw things to a close.
Whether it’s a village fete, a conference, or a major charity ball, closing any event properly is an important part of the proceedings – and it can be a tricky one to get right. If it’s your job to give that essential final speech, you’ll need to do a bit of a balancing act between making all those involved feel suitably valued, highlighting the successes of the day and inspiring people for the future – without talking for ever. It’s been a long day and everyone has had their fun. Although they want to hear how well things have gone, and maybe even a complimentary mention of their name, by now home – or perhaps the local pub – is definitely beckoning. If there’s one maxim to bear in mind for this kind of thing it has to be KISS – Keep It Short and Simple!
1. Getting StartedIt’s often best to start with all the necessary votes of thanks and then it can be useful to move on to a quick reminder of what the event had set out to do.
- Thank the organisers, sponsors or owners of the venue
- What was the goal of today’s event – or the reason for it?
- What was required to make it happen?
Example: I’d like to start by thanking Lord and Lady Bellstone-Smythe for allowing us to use Lakefield Hall for our Charity Ball tonight. I’m sure you’d all agree, their beautiful home made the perfect setting for the whole event. Our thanks must also go to the committee who have worked so tirelessly to make it all such a success, and especially Gabby Hodge – our delightful compere tonight – who made sure everything ran so very well. Finally, we couldn’t possibly go home without mentioning the tremendous efforts of all of the Lakefield staff – from the kitchens for keeping us so well fed, to the gardeners for the magnificent floral displays you see around you. We came here to raise some money for one of the country’s least known, but vitally important charities, and we have certainly done that tonight!
2. Celebrate SuccessThis really is the bit that everyone’s been waiting for – how successful has it been? If you’ve just raised £15,000 for Comic Relief, this part’s a doddle, but if the event has been a lot less successful than had been hoped, you may struggle. However bad it’s been, try to accentuate the positive – there’s always something upbeat you can find to say, though you may have to search a bit at times to find it!
- Congratulate everyone for what’s been achieved
- If possible, add in some up-to-date facts or results
- Be positive; nobody likes to feel they’ve been wasting their time, but don’t “over-egg” it, you’ll just sound insincere and everyone knows – or suspects – the truth anyway.
Example: It’s been a (fantastic / enjoyable) time and (amazing / some good) things have been achieved (in this afternoon’s glorious sunshine /despite the rain). I’ve just heard that we’ve (raised over £5,000 / never had so many entrants in the egg-and-spoon-race) and our little event is even going to be featured (on tonight’s local TV news / in next month’s community newsletter). For an event of this type, that’s a (tremendous success / pretty good effort) so well done everyone!
3. Be InspirationalFinish by sending everyone home inspired. Local shows and school fairs come around, year after year, and there’s always a conference or a charity event to go to, somewhere, so part of your job is making sure that everyone is motivated to do it – or something like it – all over again. If it’s been a roaring success, the feel-good factor will do this for you; if it hasn’t, again, you’ll need to work at it.
- Recap the achievements
- How have the participants themselves benefited?
- What needs to be done in the future?
Example: We’ve achieved so much in the time we’ve been here and gained a lot ourselves too. This event is finished, of course, but it doesn’t really stop here – and it’ll soon be time to be thinking about organising the next one. I know I’ve enjoyed today enormously and I hope you all have too. Ladies and gentlemen, as they say north of the border “safe home” – and see you next year!
Now shake those remaining hands and then join everybody else in the general exodus homewards – or down the pub; you’ve earned it.