There’s a memory effect called “primacy and recency.” Essentially, the human brain remembers best what it hears first and last—the stuff in the middle is forgotten at a much higher rate. It’s why the opening statements and closing arguments in court cases are so important—the best trial lawyers rehearse them indefinitely because they know they are crucial moments in the jurors’ minds.
When it comes to giving a speech, worry the most about your opening and your closing. Use those precious moments in time to state your main point, your theme, and your call to action. Don’t waste them by droning on with endless “thank-yous” or on minor issues.
One technique is to take your speech, delete the body, and just read the opening and closing. Then ask yourself, “If that was all my audience heard, would they know my main point, my theme, and my call to action?” If you can answer “Yes,” then your opening and closing are in a great place. If not, rework them so that they are the most important parts of your speech.