20 July 2014

3 Killer Ways To Close Your Next Presentation

Some time ago I shared with you three powerful ways to open up a presentation. Knowing how to effectively open a presentation is of great importance. But the closing is just as important. If a smart opening helps you grab your audience’s attention, a thoughtful conclusion helps you amaze them and be remembered. After all, the way you close your presentation will be the last impression your audience will have of you.
If you’ve heard of the attention curve, then you also know how important your conclusion is. During a typical presentation, everybody listens at the beginning. Then the attention naturally starts dropping to about 10-20% of what it was initially and at the end it goes up again, especially if you make it clear you are about to conclude. This implies that no matter how good (or bad) you were during your talk people will listen to you during the conclusions. That’s why it is worth thinking about how best you can close your talk. 

There are many techniques you may use to close with a bang. The one you choose mainly depends on the context and the topic of your presentation as well as on what makes you feel more comfortable. In this article I’m going to share with you three of my favourite tips. First of all, let me tell you how not to close. Avoid saying something like “Well, that’s it. Thank you very much.” It is too ordinary, that’s what most of your colleagues will do. If you want to amaze your audience and be remembered, give these three simple tips a try.

1. Include a call to action
Any presentation should include a call to action. People don’t come to listen to you only to get some information. They are there because they want to understand what they can do with what they learn from you. They want to know how your message (be it an idea, a product, a project, etc.) can touch their daily lives. Don’t be afraid to include a call to action. As storyteller Cristiano Carriero told me, “you should take your audience where you want them to go.”
2. Repeat yourself 
Here’s how the classic 3-part speech outline works: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them. You can use this technique at the end of your presentation by summarising the key points you made earlier. I like to use a final recap slide sometimes. By repeating the key points you help your audience remember what you want them to remember and you reaffirm the validity of your message.  
3. Go back to the beginning
This is my favourite technique, which is also used in many movies. The Prestige—a great story of two magicians competing with each other—starts with a narrator's voice explaining that each trick has three parts: the pledge, the turn and the prestige. Then an entertaining story begins which only at the end makes you understand why the movie started with that sentence. Guess what? The movie ends with a narrator's voice explaining that each trick has three parts: the pledge, the turn and the prestige. As Ethos3 CEO Scott Schwertly wrote in a SlideShare article, going back to the beginning “provides a complete sense of closure.” 
If you want to close your presentation with a bang, start with the end in mind. Your conclusions are not the mere sequel of your presentation’s core theme. You conclusions are your core theme. Starting with the end in mind means that your conclusion—what you think is the most important takeaway for your audience—comes first. The beginning and the middle part of your presentation will come naturally if you think about how best you can support your conclusions. 

If you’d like to chat more about how to close a presentation, meet me over on Google+ or Twitter to jon the conversation right now!

IMAGE: Evan Forester via Flickr

No comments:

Post a Comment