Wolfgang Amadeus MozartI once heard a story that Mozart’s mother would use an innovative way to get her young son to wake up and get out of bed in the mornings.  Having a prodigal musician and auditory son, she would play the scale on the piano and leave the last note unplayed.  Thus, the sound would be “do”, “re”, “mi”, “fa”, “so”, “la”, ti… and she would not play the last “do” sound.   She would repeat this until it drove the young Wolfgang crazy that he would have to jump out of bed and run to the piano to play the last note.   Mozart needed closure, and he needed to hear that last note.

According to Wikipedia, the psychological definition of closure or the need for cognitive closure is as follows:

or need for closure (NFC) (used interchangeably with need for cognitive closure (NFCC)) are psychological terms that describe an individual’s desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity. The term “need” denotes a motivated tendency to seek out information

Cliffhanger.  Hollywood plays off of this need with its weekly programming of TV shows where there is a cliff-hanger or untold ending for a story in order to encourage the viewer to tune back in again for the following episode.  As humans, we need answers that provide us a concrete solution or resolution.  When we don’t have this, it gives us an uneasy feeling and motivates us to dig further for more information.

Closure Naomi TakeuchiPeople Need Closure.  The recent disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Jet, MH370, also gives the world this same ambiguity since no one has a concrete solution or answer to this unusual occurrence.  Many people are riveted to the news stories surrounding this plane.  Although from a news perspective, it is good to have readers and viewers returning for more information, in the end, people want to have a conclusion.  People need closure to feel satisfied psychologically.  This may continue for weeks, months, years, decades…we really don’t know at this point, and that is what makes this difficult for many to resolve in their own minds.

Goal is to leave Audience Satisfied.  As professional speakers, it is our duty to make sure our audiences leave our programs psychologically and emotionally satisfied.  We need to have closure regarding issues that are raised.  If you bring up a topic in your speech, people want to know the end result.  The only time it is allowable to leave your audience hanging is if you have a multiple session set of speeches where the end result will be revealed.  You may leave “cliff-hangers” for your audience at the end of Day 1 and Day 2 of a Three Day Course, but if you don’t resolve the theories or answers by Day 3, your audience will be left psychologically unsatisfied, and you will be doing a disservice to them.

This is a common mistake of speakers who perform in speech competitions.  They become so focused on the clock and meeting the timing so that they don’t get disqualified, that the speech suffers because there hasn’t been a satisfactory conclusion.

I am always leery of speakers who provide a “teaser program” where say 3 of my 10 tips will be shared, and you’ll need to purchase my book or come back for another program to hear the other 7 tips.  It is much better to tell your audience, that they will walk away with 3 solid tips.  If you want to pitch another program, do this when it’s clear that your audience is satisfied and wants more.  Don’t forget, if your content is bad, nobody will want to hear the other 7 tips anyway.

1000 Cranes, LLC  Naomi TakeuchiCommunication Powerhouse Tip of the Week:  Remember that your audience likes to take a journey with you as long as they know there will be closure to that story.  Ensure that your audience has the answers to topics that are discussed.

Provide a solid conclusion that leaves them psychologically and emotionally satisfied.   When you think about what Mozart’s mother did, make sure that you leave your audience with the last note of the scale and don’t leave them hanging.

  • What do you do to ensure your audience has a solid conclusion after you speak?
  • When you think back to a speaker who did not leave you satisfied with a speech, how did you feel and why?

How about you?  Feel free to comment below or contact Naomi here.