Whether your goal is to give a stirring speech, stand up and preach, passionately beseech, or quietly teach, you need an exit strategy.

Whether your goal is to lavish with praise, turn a clever phrase, ask your boss for a raise, or merely sit and gaze, you need an exit strategy.

Whether your goal is to ride a bike, take a hike, build a dike, or play a game you like, you need an exit strategy.

Whether your goal is to walk in the rain, fly a plain, travel by train, or simply refrain, you need an exit strategy.

Sure, I could continue without angst or rancor whether your goal is to captain a tanker or to do lunch with a banker, sell ice cream in Alaska or grow palm trees in Nebraska. You still need an exit strategy.

The need for an exit strategy is never quite as important as when talking or writing. Okay, it’s pretty important to have an exit strategy if you plan on jumping in the lake or grabbing a snake, slipping out for a break or just staying awake. Even so, if your plan is to give a speech or write an article, make a presentation or publish your novel, having an exit strategy is essential.

What is the big deal about this exit strategy thing?

At a broad level, most things are easier to get into than out of, easier to start than finish, quicker promised than delivered, and most importantly, much easier done than undone. The range of messes we can and sometimes do get ourselves into is sometimes astounding. Fortunately, most of us usually manage to avoid these pitfalls of life and living. We are normally thoughtful enough and cautious enough to keep ourselves between the lines.

When talking and writing though, far too many of us venture forth without so much as a rudimentary exit strategy. The talk we give or point we make just hangs out there with no landing point or conclusion. We know that our exit strategy was inadequate or missing when we stop talking and those around us immediately resume talking about something else as if we hadn’t said anything at all. From their perspective, that’s what happened. We said nothing worth further consideration.

The same level of non–response can also be experienced when writing without an exit strategy. Whether your words are only for sport or the text of a report, as rough as a wart or ready for court, you are hoping for a response. It’s not precisely material what you hope the response will be but a response is nonetheless anticipated. When you have personally observed a more detectable response from people scanning the menu at McDonalds, you know that you have written without an exit strategy. You would have faired better ordering a Big Mac.

Here is a pro tip for assuring that you always have an exit strategy when speaking or writing. It matters not whether your audience is standing room only or but two or three, whether you write for the ages or are just texting me, know how you will finish before you start, know where you are headed before you depart.

Whether my goal is to give a stirring speech, stand up and preach, passionately beseech, or quietly teach, I take care to have an exit strategy. I now pass the tip along to you. Please make it your first step to assure that you always get the last word.