Look to the end to have a lasting impact

Clarkson is great at crafting the ends of his columns

So few writers and other communicators spend any time focusing on the end of the story they are telling.  Many communicators spend a lot of time on the intro, the opening, how they introduce the piece.  And rightly so. That’s where you grab your audience, get their attention and hopefully keep it.

Focus on the end

Yet, we need to spend as much time on how we end our communications: what’s the big point we want to leave people with?  The end leaves the impact on the audience while the opening grabs the attention.

Think of so many means of communication where the end is vital.  The end of The Godfather with Michael Corleone receiving the homage of the heads of the clan.  The end of Jane Eyre ‘I married the man.’  The end of any Jeremy Clarkson column or the Top Gear series ‘With that bombshell…’.

I have just mentioned three here but as I do you probably remembered others, so many others, that make the point for me.

Lasting impact on the end

The end has the lasting impact.  It is what the audience takes away with them.  They often do not remember the start.

I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing for the Archives of IT to contribute to the 130 people who have contributed so far.  And towards the end of an interview I am always thinking: ‘how will this end?’

I don’t want it to dribble off.  I want it to have an impact.  So, for example, when Sir Peter Ogden one of the co-founders of ComputaCenter said “Always look at the bright side of life” towards the end of the interview, I knew that was it.  Close there and leave the impact.

Of course try to get your readers/listeners/viewers hooked into the story.  Of course try to get them through the story.  But also look for the big punch at the end by which they will remember the story.

Here are some of the best movie endings.  And here are some of the best novel endings.

And here’s mine: link your ending to your beginning.  Make a connection between the opening and the end.   We see Michael Corleone act as his farther in the end.  We see Jane Eyre overcome Mr Rochester’s pride.  Make it a point at the start to grab you audience.   And make the point at the end: make it a diamond in structure rather than just a pyramid.

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