Cathy Wilson has taught college literature and composition, junior-high and high-school English, and secondary art. She has a master's degree in American Literature.
Establishing a Convincing Conclusion
Jamie is trying to convince his parents to let him go on a long backpacking trip. They're not sure he's old enough to go, and he has presented his list of examples of how responsible he really is. 'And if you let me go,' he says finally, 'I promise I will do the dishes for an entire week.' Jamie's been using the very same techniques that you use when you write a good conclusion for your paper.
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- 0:29 Restate Your Main Points
- 1:25 Add Some Interesting Stuff
- 2:07 Acknowledge Your Opposition
- 2:28 Clever Tips
- 3:59 Make It Universal
- 4:29 Lesson Summary
Restate Your Main Points
At the beginning of your paper, in your introduction, you wrote a great thesis statement that contained your main points. In your conclusion, you will restate those main points, but don't just copy and paste them. See if you can restate your thesis in an interesting, fresh way.
How can you do this?
- Well, use different words. If one of Jamie's main points is that he is responsible, he could restate the idea by mentioning that he is trustworthy.
- Use a different order. This can be especially powerful if you want to end on a point that will clinch your argument. In Jamie's case, he tried hard to offer his parents a deal they couldn't refuse: a week's worth of dish duty!
- Split up the points. You don't need to write all the thesis statement points all at once. You can write them with some interesting material in between.
Add Some Interesting Stuff
What kind of material could you use?
- Add an anecdote. You may already know that an anecdote is a very, very short story. Sometimes a short, wonderful story can move your reader better than anything else. In Jamie's case, he could retell the story of how well he behaved during their last family camping trip.
- Add a couple of examples. Sometimes, you've got to the play the 'everybody's doing it' card. If Jamie can point out that some of his most mature friends are going on the backpacking trip, this may finally convince his parents to agree.
Acknowledge Your Opposition
Acknowledge your opposition; even though your conclusion is meant to strongly convince your reader to accept your points, you can come across as a real authority if you are willing to mention a few points from your opposition. This shows that you understand the complexity of the issues and therefore sets you up as a good expert on the topic.
Here are a few clever tips you can use to convince your reader in your conclusion. Of course, you don't want to use all of them! Choose a couple that will fit just right with your conclusion.
- Use a quotation. Maybe in your research, you have run across a strong, convincing quotation that fits just right in your conclusion. Jamie could conclude with, 'Coach Peterson says I'm ready for the challenge.'
- Add a surprise. There may be some element of your research that surprised you. Add that to your conclusion to evoke an emotional response in your readers. Perhaps Jamie could surprise his parents by showing how he's saved up enough money for all his expenses.
- Use emotion. There's nothing like pulling the heartstrings just a little in your conclusion. Especially if you're writing about an important social issue like homelessness or hunger, you could write a sentence or two that will reach out to the hearts of your readers.
- Call to action. Let's say you're writing a persuasive essay, and in that case, a call to action will work great in your conclusion. This means that you challenge your reader to take action in some way. Jamie might ask his parents to call his friend's parents with permission to let him go on the trip. In the case of a paper on hunger, you might challenge your readers to volunteer to help in a community food bank or soup kitchen.
Make It Universal
Once you've restated your points and used a few wonderful techniques to involve your reader, you're just about ready to end your paper. One great way to do it is to make your main point in a bigger way. Jamie could point out how kids all over the world benefit from the rigor and challenges of backpacking. A paper on hunger could point out that even though there's hunger the world over, we can do our part here and now to help in our community.
Conclusion… So, what do you need to write a powerful conclusion?
- Restate the main points from your thesis statement in a fresh way.
- Add a couple of important details.
- Use a few clever writing techniques.
- Make your point in a bigger way.
After this lesson, you'll have the ability to:
- Identify the importance of writing an effective conclusion
- Describe ways to restate your main points
- Explain other techniques that will help you write a powerful conclusion
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How To Write Effective Conclusions: Importance and Elements
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