All good things must come to an end – friendships, partnerships, relationships. Recognizing when something has ended is as important as experiencing the beginning. Recently it became apparent to me that most people are either unwilling or don’t know how to recognize when it is time to end.
I watched a speaker at an event recently who was unable to close their presentation. They clung on to their audience seeking questions from participants in an attempt to keep the momentum high. I was intrigued as I felt the awkwardness of the audience grasping at anything to ask to in an effort to appease the speaker. It was as painful to watch as it was to experience the torture of watching the audience struggle.
In my professional training as a speaker, I learned that there is a beginning a middle and an end to every presentation. Each part is an important part of a speaker’s repertoire. Yet, many presenters lack the simple form of a close. It happens in presentations, workshops AND it happens in our everyday world.
I have watched employees fail to recognize when they have reached the “end” of their employment. When the enthusiasm that was once prevalent in the beginning of their employment wane and what once was enthusiasm to begin their work day was now replaced with drudge and dissatisfaction. Mistakes begin to occur that jeopardize their employment and bring them to the attention of their supervisors. The more they fail to recognize they have come to an “end” the more they are counseled until their “end” is met with them being released from their position.
The same is true for relationships. We have a false sense of things lasting forever. We even “vow” that in sickness or health we will endure the pain of continuing long after the “end” has arrived. It becomes an obligation instead of a rewarding experience.
So, how do you know when the “end” has come. Simple, ask yourself “How do I feel”? Is the majority of your experience, making excuses, feeling energetically depleted, your goals and aspirations being met. What have you learned from the experience. Are you rejuvenated when you are separated from the experience and drained when together. Nothing lasts forever.
If the experience whittles away at the fabric of your being, it also chips at your self-esteem. Think of it in this way. Imagine you are cooking a meal for some guests. You plan what you will serve, what ingredients you need to prepare. The table is set, the music was chosen and your guests arrive for the “beginning”. The meal is served, conversation is energizing, the middle is fulfilling. When dessert is finished and the conversation begins to dwindle, it signals the end is near. You thank your guests for attending, remind them of how much their participation was enjoyable and share your appreciation. The close is ended when your guests walk out the front door.
The end is best left on a high note – gleaning all that was experienced and then allowing the natural ending to occur without holding on – “please don’t go”, “I don’t want this to end” “But, I don’t understand, weren’t we having a good time?” etc. etc. etc.
Recognizing the “close” takes awareness. As a speaker, it is being in tune with your audience. Yawning, slouching in their chair, gazing off into the distance are all signs that the close has already begun. You know what it is like to listen to someone go on and on and on and on after the point has already been made.
Take the first step today, to practice the close. It consists of ending the conversation with a reminder of how it started. “I’m glad we ran into each other today. So glad to hear how your children are doing and thanks for sharing that great new restaurant you found. It’ time for me to complete my tasks. Hope the rest of your day is as rewarding as running into you. Take care – Good bye!”
Every good story has an ending, recapping the highlights and leaving the reader with their own experience. Find the highlights, share your experience and be sure to acknowledge what it meant to you. Hope yours is a greater understanding – The End!