I recently posted a blog about creating a strong opening when you have to deliver a presentation. Don’t forget about the ending, though.
You’re flying high because your presentation has gone great, and you’re excited!
You opened up strongly, included some light material where appropriate; moved to the core of your message; developed it; made an argument; and hopefully informed, persuaded, and entertained your audience.
You’ve been delivering your presentation with passion and sincerity, sharing your expertise in a compelling way with stories, photos, videos, and humor, if the situation called for it.
Now it’s time to wrap up, but closing in a boring way undermines all of your effort. Audience members will readily remember the last thing you tell them. Make it special.
Be careful not to end your presentation with a Q & A session. If you’re going to take questions, make sure you take them before your closing statement.
Ending your presentation with a question-and-answer session runs the risk of a controversial or dull ending, especially if the questions are contentious or you can’t answer them well. All of the excitement and energy you generated during your presentation will be lost. Audiences most often remember the last thing you tell them, so you don’t want to leave it in the hands of fate.
Answer the questions and then give a summary of the major message or the takeaways of your presentation. Don’t skip this part. The summary and takeaways help shape what the audience will think about the presentation and what they remember afterwards.
The last big thing to keep in mind is the call to action. Whether you’re encouraging your audience to accept your business proposal, buy something from you, lose weight, improve their relationships, etc., your ultimate goal is to present your compelling information and close in a way that inspires audience members to act.
During the call to action, you can conclude with a poignant story or a powerful image of someone who has done what you’re asking your audience to do, illustrating the wonderful results that person got.
Listen to speeches and comments by politicians, religious leaders, teachers, social activists, and others. They do this all the time in an effort to inspire and mobilize their audiences.
You know you’ve made an impact when audience members say things like: “I never thought of it that way” or “I’m going to have to try that.”
Your presentation has the power to change people: inspire them, motivate them, help them to see a perspective they’d never seen before. Don’t underestimate what you have to offer.