Closing your presentations with impact can open up doors of opportunity because what you say last can significantly affect how your audience feels once they walk away from where you’re presenting back to their busy lives.
You can deliver a wonderful presentation but if the ending is weak, your audience will walk away feeling like the experience wasn’t very strong. So here are 4 keys you can use to strengthen your closing and henceforth your presentation.
Before you close your presentation, you should signal that you are closing. Tell the audience that the end is near. Be more creative than saying, “In conclusion” or “In summary” or something to that effect.
I like to use picture words such as “Let’s wrap this message up” or “As we come to the end” or “I’ll leave you with this…” or “Let’s land this plane and I hope what I now share in conclusion will leave you thinking this presentation was worth the journey”. Whatever you say and do, let your audience know you are closing because here’s what will happen:
They will listen again!
That’s right. People have been trained to know that your closing means you are most likely going to reiterate your message and so their antennas go up and they often begin to take notes.
2. Re Cap
As you move into your closing, make sure you call back to each of the major points you made for each segment of your topic.
Important Point: You can either re cap first or signal first depending on what makes better sense for the flow of your speech.
3. Questions & Answers (Q & A)
Never end with Q & A. Why? Because people most remember what they hear first and what they hear last. Your overall message needs to be the last words / picture in their ears.
It is okay to have a Q & A, but ideally this should be facilitated throughout your presentation. Or, at least about 95% of the way through your presentation before you get to signal and re cap.
4. Focused Message
Finally, once you’ve completed Q & A + signaled that you’re closing + re capped your major points, it’s time to move into your focused message.
Just like you should have been doing throughout your entire presentation as you transition from one point to the next, it’s extremely important to tease people before you tell them.
Tease your audience by letting them know at the end of your presentation, WHAT you want audience to THINK / DO + HOW your presentation is RELEVANT / BENEFICIAL to them or their business etc.
BY closing your presentations with impact will significantly open new doors of opportunity.
Picture yourself attending a staff meeting. How happy are you when the host of the meeting drones on about the numbers or the specifications of a product. Most of us hate lectures.
What we do like and appreciate is a great conversation. So how do you as a speaker turn something that seems like a formal presentation into a more relaxed conversation?
First, it can't be one way…
You need to plan for interaction with frequent check-ins with your audience. For example, you might say to your listeners, "Does that make sense? Do any of you agree?".
Instead of making a rhetorical statement where people simply nod or smile, ask open ended questions. "Charlie, I know you have had issues in past. Can you share what happened? Does anyone else have a comment?"
Then, listen and build off of what is said. "Yes, that makes perfect sense. We definitely have to go to another supplier or we will be in a bind." Think ahead of the questions you might ask that would spark discussion.
Secondly, speak the language of your listeners...
Keep your focus on who is attending. Do what it takes to make everyone understand. Don't think that big words make you sound smarter. The simpler you speak, the more you insure that people will get your message.
Kathy Sierra of the ‘Head First Series’ says the simple approach actually allows you to go deeper with technical information than if you had used formal language. Acronyms or technical jargon may confuse people and prevent them from staying on point.
Recently during a meeting the executive presenter talked about his strategic ‘Glidepath’. The looks on people's faces demonstrated the speaker might as well have spoken a foreign language.
Additionally, if some attendees are people from other cultures, expressions commonly used in your culture may not be understood.
Thirdly, sneak in a story…
People love stories as long as they can follow the point and it's interesting. You might even include a video within your story.
Get in and out of your story. A long story makes people forget the importance of your original idea or recommendation.
Show some enthusiasm. Someone once said good conversations are filled with verve and fire. Don't hold back and worry about being "over the top". Very few people are ever perceived as "out of control." If you don't sound interested or passionate, why should anybody else!
Emphasise key words or phrases. Add some exaggerated pauses and strong gestures if you really want someone to get it.
Always be talking with someone…
People who talk to their slides or notes definitely do not look like they are having a conversation.
Talk to one person at a time and give each listener a piece of information. Notice their reaction before you continue. Are they nodding, smiling or frowning? Scanning the room will make listeners feel you are talking at them, but not to them.
When you present conversationally the brains of your listeners think they are in conversation and so they have to hold up their end of the conversation by paying attention.
Audiences appreciate speakers who are relaxed and natural, who give the impression they are talking to friends, versus "Presenting".
Remember, great presentations are conversations others can continue.
All the best with your presentations!
Convincing people to act on your ideas is an art.
If you are one of the people who approach preparing presentations by opening PowerPoint on your computer, the following advice is just for you.
What follows are five content tips that will help you to create high impact presentations. On the surface, they may seem too simplistic. The reality is that most people overlook these pointers and end up with content that is confusing or uninspiring.
1. Invest time to know your audience
Don't make the mistake of assuming they are just like you. People have different learning styles and clear preferences for the way information is presented to them. Begin by creating a list of all the people who will be attending your presentation.
If possible, understand the personalities that you will be addressing. Know how they think. For example, are they more oriented to the big picture, processes, details or relationships? Learn ahead what they care about, what they might find objectionable or why they might resist your topic.
2. Grab attention with a focused opening
You have less than two minutes to gain and hold the attention of your audience.
If you waste time or begin without clarity of what you want listeners to think or do differently, you will lose your audience. They will begin to respond to email, even though supposedly listening to you.
A study by the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that participants who were interrupted with emails performed worse on IQ tests than those who were under the influence of marijuana. Just imagine how receptive your audience will be if they are responding to email.
Listeners only care about themselves and what you can do for them. Your opening statement should cover three things: what you know to be a problem or issue, what you want them to do or think after your presentation and why it will be a benefit for them to act on your recommendation.
Hiding your "ask" to the end is a mistake. People listen better if you tell them up front these three key things. Your opening statement should be compelling and delivered in less than two minutes. Short sentences with strong verbs and adjectives will grab attention quickly.
3. Present a simple, well supported argument
An audience has a limited processing capacity. Less is more!
Researchers tell us that the most people can remember at a sitting are five key points. However, three really maximizes retention.
While there may be a lot to say, consider your audience and what is critical for them at this particular moment. Discussing information they don't care about is a waste of your time and theirs. Remember people are besieged by information. Additionally, today's audiences are much more skeptical because they are used to people "spinning" a good tale.
Be sure to support your data with metrics or analyses and explain where your information comes from. If your information solves a problem, your listeners will pay attention. If not, they won't! In fact, Henry Boettinger in his book, Moving Mountains, says the only reason for the existence of a presentation is that it be an answer to a problem. Lastly, make sure one point logically leads to the next. Strategically, organize your content.
4. Go for the heart
When people hold strong opposing attitudes, they "dig their heels in" and hold on to their old way of thinking.
To overcome resistance, move them emotionally. Advertisers tell us that logic plays only a small role in changing attitudes. People are swayed by stories, examples and brief anecdotes because they can picture, and even feel, what you have said. Nobody remembers a bullet point list, but they will remember your story.
The likelihood of listeners being persuaded improves dramatically when there is a high emotional component.
5. Conclude on a strong note
It is easy to overlook the importance of a strong conclusion, especially if running out of time.
Many presenters end on a limp note, by saying, "Thanks for your time" or by quickly showing the remaining slides in their deck. Your conclusion is the last thing people will remember. It is important for you to reinforce your point of view, the action you want people to take going forward and the benefits they will derive.
Successful presenters are artists, masters of design. They do not skip steps. They carefully address each of the areas covered in this newsletter. Save this newsletter to your desktop as a checklist.
All the best with your presentations!
We speak to be understood, yet as Robert Greenleaf once said, "Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much".
When asked about information overload in the House of Congress, Representative John Brockmann responded "Most houseplants in the U.S. are killed by over-watering".
Business Professionals today attend meeting after meeting where they are barraged with information. At the end of their week, they may remember only a small portion of the information they were told. Experts agree that if you want your message to be understood, as well as remembered, it is important to make it simple.
In fact, simplicity is the most powerful tool a communicator has.
As communicators and presenters, we know a lot about our topics, and our tendency is to want to share everything we have learned. Our assumption is that people will have the same fascination as we do. Dan and Chip Heath in their book, ‘Made to Stick’ call our problem of "over-talking" the curse of the information era.
Too much information overwhelms listeners. Instead of persuading, it creates confusion and often delays decisions. Ideally, a speaker should think in terms of sharing three key points with an audience.
Dan and Chip Heath suggest that a presenter should focus on the core message and only around that. Pick the key points that will change the hearts and minds of the particular audience. Unnecessary information albeit interesting to the presenter is not necessarily interesting to the audience.
Thus, to make your viewpoint stick, the audience needs to see that it connects to their world on a granular level. For each point that you include, ask yourself "What would this mean to them?" If the answer is "nothing," it's a good indication that you should disregard the point.
When you think about expressing your points, remember that we convey ideas through nouns and verbs. Starkly naked points can be riveting. Adjectives and adverbs often add clutter. Demystify your ideas by stating them clearly and simply. Do not bury your points in long sentences or over-connect your ideas with clauses.
As presenters, we are actually rehearsing our audience to spread the "good news".
With a limited number of key points, listeners have a better chance of remembering what we have said, and they can accurately share that information with others who have decision-making power or with those who missed the presentation. They leave energized versus frustrated or bored.
All the very best with your next presentation