The opening and conclusion of your communication should together not take more then 20% of the time. After all, it is in the centre where your content is focused. But this does not mean the opening is not important. On the contrary!
The goal of your opening is to open the heart of your audience. Always remember ‘hearts before ears’. If your audience or receiver is willing to listen your message will go in a whole lot easier. So son’t go directly into the content but start your email with a short sentence that connects at emotional (pathos) level:
“Hi how are you, did you have a good time at dinner last night?, Regarding that file we spoke about could you please send me the contact list before the end of the day”.
Spent a good 10-12.5 % of your time to make that connection with your audience if you deliver a speech. Search for the shared value to connect and make sure you have them with you before you get into the content.
A great way to transition from the opening to the middle part of a speech is by using a list of ‘preview arguments’. If you use preview arguments at the end of the opening you will tell your audience the arguments that you are going to discuss in the middle part of your speech. Even if your audience forgets the precise content of the middle part they will still remember the list you presented at the end of your opening. Then they can backtrack your argumentation to recall your content. Check out this speech by Melinda Gates and see how she uses preview arguments to structure her speech in a very clear way.
The middle part
This is where you deliver the content of your message. The pathos line will go down and the ration can go up. It is about the argumentation, facts and figures that will persuade your audience. But don’t forget to make it concrete.
“In 2012 30.000 elephants were killed” is not so concrete. “That means one killed elephant every 15 minutes every hour of every day of the year”, makes it a lot stronger.
This part of should be about 75-80% of your communication.
Different cultures handle the conclusion differently. As a generalization we can say that in Northern Europe we tend to underestimate the importance of the conclusion. We have said our content, stated our case, now thank you very much for your attention.
Remember that (unfortunately) a large part of your audience will not remember exactly what you said 24 hours later. But they will still remember how you made them feel. So take 10-12.5% of your time to make sure the audience leaves the room with a positive feeling. Reconnect with that shared value you took up in the beginning. Recall WHY your topic is important, not what it is about and make them relive the sensation that you are a person they can empathize and connect with. “I’m not 100% sure how he phrased it, but he was a great guy” will get you much further then “I can quote his speech, but I really did not like him”. Also if you manage to make a circular structure and come back to an element you took up in the beginning this is a great signal flag for oyur audience that you are almost done. Remember they WANT to clap, but it is your job to help them understand when.
So end you conclusion high on pathos elements, perhaps with a quote or inspirational statement and memorize your last sentence if it’s a speech. If you have a great last line memorized, it will calm your nerves and serve as an anchor buoy at your final destination. And if you deliver it with conviction you will not even need to say “thank you for your attention”, you can just accept the applause.
Connect and create credibility (pathos & ethos)
Make the core statement credible (logos)
Inspire and/or call for action (pathos)