By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.” ~Colm Toibin, Novelist – Portrait of the Artist, The Guardian, 19, February, 2013
Why Have a Specific Conclusion?
In psychological and learning terms, there are two important distinctions that relate to memory – recency and primacy. Primacy demonstrates that some people remember the first few items from the list – like a title.
Recency refers to people recalling information given last from the list – or the content. Conclusions finish off the article, providing readers with a different type of summary or synopsis of the content.
Therefore, putting more emphasis on your conclusions can reinforce summaries, introductions, and content. How we end our articles is just as important to the reading experience as any other component in a good article. Many writers spend an inordinate amount of time creating catchy titles as this is the first opportunity to attract the reader. While they write quality content, provide helpful backlinks or add other value to their article, many fall short by not giving the same attention to detail in their conclusions.
Too often, writers simply quit writing, and that concludes their article. Unfortunately, there was room for the reader to remember the post with this approach. Just as we attempt to create a summary that captures the essence of our topic for search purposes, a good conclusions cycles back to the title and content for the reader.
A well-thought conclusion helps the reader understand that for this article, the writer finished with their post. I know that sounds inane, obviously, if there are no more words, the writer is finished.
However, if you leave your readers abruptly, without circling back to the title and content, it can create a disconnect with the reader.
Without a well-written conclusion, it is rather like a phone conversation without the customary, “Goodbye.” How many of you have wondered if you got dropped because the caller just hung up. Rather than remember the conversation, people are left wondering if there is something wrong; they can feel short-changed, or decide that you were rude. These feelings also happen without a good conclusion, you are not courteous to your readers.
Qualities of a Good Conclusion
Strong conclusions sum up the article without being repetitious. Do not merely repeat what you previously said. For a better conclusions, consider:
1. Your final thoughts about your article: Ask yourself, “So what?”
This simple question can stimulate your thinking to see if you have left anything out of the body, or it can help you frame your conclusion. Without writing it, ask yourself, “In conclusion, I want you to know”, and then elaborate on the key points.
2. Giving readers a suggestion as a direct statement or question them on the topic.
I could suggest that writers spend more time on their conclusions, or ask writers if they understand why conclusions are just as important as title and summary.
3. Relating it back to your title or summary to complete the impression.
I can accomplish this with a question to the reader. I restate my original claim that conclusions are important, and now I am challenging the reader to see if that is valid for them after reading the article. I might even ask them if the introductory information or the conclusion helped them remember the intent of the content.
4. Using a quote about the subject; however, frame it correctly.
Simply inserting a quote in the end leaves the reader with a memory of whoever you are quoting, not you as a writer. However, the quote from Colm Tóibín resonated for me while doing research for the article. A simple way around this is to include a quote that starts your post, as I’ve done or within the content and then reference the quote in the conclusion. Reference the author of the quote and how this quote exemplifies your article subject and expand on the quote in your words to conclude the article.
5. Providing a solution.
If you are writing about a problem, define it, analyze it and then provide a solution in your conclusion. You can also restate the problem, without details, and wrap up your post with a more in-depth solution.
6. Giving readers a warning about why they need to know this information.
Current events, social unrest, changes in social media, or conclusions would all benefit from a warning to the reader. Let them know why not paying attention to the subject is detrimental to them. Putting readers on notice is a good way to have them remember the article.
7. Concluding with a call to action
Conclusions can engage readers by challenging them to interact with you as a writer. In online writing, there is usually an opportunity to comment. Take this opportunity to engage with the reader.
At Two Drops of Ink, we are always looking for guest contributors, so I would reference this opportunity at the conclusion of a post. I can ask other writers to give us their opinions on any topic I’m writing about, and satisfy the call to action.
Your conclusion is your last chance to leave an enduring impression on the reader.
It’s your last opportunity to convey the overall impression of your thoughts and emotions about the topic. Consider: What is the essence of your post?
If I have done a good job with this article, the impression I am leaving is that conclusions add value to the reading experience and that readers are more satisfied with a specific conclusion. My intention was to highlight the importance of conclusions. But whether I had good intentions or not, you’re the reader. So, I’ll ask you:
- Have I listed a way for you to make your conclusions more interesting?
- Have I given you valid reasons for valuing the opportunities in conclusions?
- Have I made you think about your conclusions?
- Have I fulfilled my promise in my title?
I would ask that you let me know, after all; this conclusion might be lacking your additional insight; there may be more to add with your comments. Until I get your comments and process them, I will just end this with a courteous, “Goodbye, hope we connect later.”