There’s a critical component to any content marketing or communications strategy that is commonly undervalued: the quality of writing. For some, writing is intimidating and challenging. For others, it’s natural, comfortable, and fun.
Regardless, there is not a single person who can’t benefit from continual improvement in their written communication skills. It’s not a skill you can master overnight, however there is a highly effective way to make sure your intended message is coming across clearly and memorably: learn how to write a killer conclusion.
Follow these 7 tips to make sure your conclusion accomplishes what it ought to:
Define your own takeaways
When you’re writing a blog post, or any long-form content, a conclusion presents the opportunity to give your reader with takeaways. Although this point may seem obvious, by the time your readers have finished consuming your content, they may have generated their own takeaways that stray from the central message you intended to communicate. You’ve presented your main points, sub-points, supporting data and examples; the conclusion is the time to take advantage of the power you have to syndicate it all into an overarching takeaway at the end.
Recognize the value of a conclusion’s placement
Everyone knows a conclusion comes last, but its location in a piece of content allows you to deliver some serious food for thought to your reader. Think about the fundamentals of written organization. You have an introduction which tells your reader what you will be talking about followed by a body which houses the meat of your information. After reading the body of your content, your audience has digested the material you’ve fed them. They are on the same page as you. Now ask yourself, “What can I now communicate to my audience that they wouldn’t have understood before?” When you approach your conclusion in this light, your conclusion will transcend a level of summary and actually deliver that final step you’re seeking.
Reiterate or establish your call to action
Maybe you presented your reader with one or several calls to action throughout your content, but a conclusion is the ideal location to remind them what you want them to do. If you haven’t spelled out the next steps prior to your conclusion, remember that your audience is now equipped with all the supporting facts and sources you have explained in your content’s body. They now understand why your call to action matters so make it easy for them to take action by explicitly providing instructions, links, etc. that are relevant to your CTA.
Use simple language and leave a lasting impression
You’ve held the reader’s attention this long—don’t lose them on your final thoughts! Avoid complex language that is confusing or more difficult to process (the fewer syllables, the better). Consider image-provoking language and real-world context that stays with your reader beyond their time on your page. Think about how your reader may be applying the information you’ve provided in their own lives or professions and cater to those scenarios. Remember not to use explicit phrases such as “in conclusion,” “in summary,” “finally,” etc. If your conclusion is well developed, it will be evident that you are wrapping it up.
Provide shareable content
Supply your readers with information that is easily shareable with others. This component may reside within your conclusion or it may accompany it. Provide click-to-tweet links within your conclusion which share your intended takeaways. Short, to-the-point sentences will be far more attractive to share over social media and will reduce or eliminate the work your reader has to do to select sharable snippets. Bold, underline, italicize, or increase the font of these types of sentences (sparingly) to give your reader an extra hint. Include a relevant, engaging image on your post to further encourage sharing.
Consider the skimmer
We’ve all done it. We skip to the conclusion without reading much of the intro or body. Your readers will do it with your content too. You may find this a harsh and disturbing reality as the author who birthed, slaved away at, and polished the content to its shiniest possible state, yet you can cherish the conclusion as the silver lining in this cruel scenario. Would your reader find value in your piece if he or she were to only consume your conclusion? Is it so compelling they may revisit its proceeding words? Evaluate your conclusion as an independent standalone, but also in conjunction with the entirety of your piece. If it strong in both senses, your conclusion is the trophy of your hard labor.
Don’t conclude (the irony!)
You read that right—a good conclusion doesn’t completely conclude your thoughts. Aim to bring a new perspective to your point, and keep the topic open to discussion. While you don’t want to introduce completely new material into your conclusion, this is a good time to consider the further implications of your material, additional data that is missing, or relevant information that could add further value to the topic at hand. If you can totally close the book on whatever you’re writing about, chances are it’s not novel enough to be writing about anyhow (Get it? Novel? Book? Sorry, I’m done).
A weak conclusion can put an otherwise strong piece of content at-risk. If you don’t take the consumer to the destination, they’ll figure out another way to get there—without you. As the conclusion is the final step for your reader, it should be the final step for you, the writer, as well. Remember that writing truly is a process and that the value of quality writing lies within the progression of ideas. When you thoughtfully build upon each step in the process, you might even surprise yourself by the depth of insight your conclusion yields.
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