How to avoid a damp squib ending to your presentation
21 May 2016
The end of a presentation can feel very much like falling off a cliff: you’ve got some solid content that you tread through, then suddenly there’s nothing. Often you’ll find yourself calling into the gap beyond with ‘Any questions?’
One way to avoid this call into the abyss is to ask a question that reinforces your key point, such as:
“I’m often asked whether we need to change strategy at all if what we have is getting us by. And that’s the point… We can more than ‘get by’: diversifying offers an exciting opportunity to grow, learn and secure a more profitable future. Who wouldn’t want that?”
The 3 point closure, as emphasised in bold above, provides a neat conclusion, using a rhetorical question as the full stop. Do ensure that the key message re-emphasises what’s in it for your audience: that’s the WIIFM for your audience – ‘What’s In It For Me?’.
The 3 points can be packaged in words or phrases as below are are placed after your action step, suggestions of which can be found here.
‘”I came, I saw, I conquered,” is the widely remembered Julius Ceasar quote and an example of how phrases can make up the 3 point closure.
The 3 point closure is a mnemonic of your key message
The three point closure allows for a distinctive end to your presentation. This avoids having it hanging incomplete in the ether, leaving your audience confused as to whether you’ve finished or not.
For example in Winston Churchill’s famous blood, sweat and tears speech, what he actually said was “I can promise you Blood, Sweat, Toil and Tears”. We lost the toil and actually only recall ‘blood, sweat and tears’ for the same reason that we remember ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’. (or ‘your teeth rot away’ although that calls upon rhythm and rhyme more as a mnemonic).
The structure of the Conclusion
To ensure your talk ends strongly AND sticks in the minds of your listeners, use this structure:
- summarise your main points, including the key message;
- ask for questions. If there are none, say: “So you’ll probably wondering what to do next.” Then you can go on to no. 3, The Action Step;
- add the Action Step;
- Finish with your 3 point closure.
Instead of the 3 point closure, you could use:
a) a rhetorical question or a quote;
The whole conclusion need only take about one minute no matter how long your presentation is.
Next time you’ve a presentation or a talk, apply the structure in the previous section.
A strong conclusion will give your words more weight….and who wouldn’t want that?!
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