How to create effective presentations, III – The endings


You have already mastered the art of transforming your message into a story. You even managed to create a 15-second version of your idea. But once you finish your speech, people haven’t noticed that you’re done. There’s no applause.

Maybe you have a problem finishing things.

Most of us are lousy to wrap up presentations. Some stay quiet and wait 5 painful seconds until the first person notices and starts doing the slow clap.

Others, at least, use a slide that signals the end. It usually says “thank you” and it has that tatty clip art of two guys shaking hands (extra points if it’s a multi-ethnic or multi-gender image).

And this might work in some cases.

Some times during those sleepless nights in which we create our slides, we forget the purpose of the presentation: to have someone remember what we said.

But we do the opposite, we reach the 20th slide talking about technical details, numbers, financial diagrams and half of our audience has already forgotten everything and is just waiting for that “thank you” slide while tweeting “#boring #fail”.

And your best idea, that one that you presented on the fifth slide, will be forgotten forever.

Two elements to capture the audience at the end:

 

The Silence

Before the last slide, keep quiet for 1 or 2 seconds

Any person that has mentally away from the meeting will return after a moment of silence. What happened? Why did he stop?

The Summary

This can be a “next steps” or “the road ahead” slide. A closing slide that summarizes what you said. Try not to repeat the same words that you used the first time. Summarize without repeating, so that people don’t get distracted again.

Steve Jobs, even with all his magic, was not a good closer. Many of his presentations ended up with a thank you. But the most memorable ones were those in which he gave a surprise at the end. His famous “One more thing…”

His job was to sell how wonderful Apple was. Not to sell products. And nothing summarizes that idea better than a surprise at the end.

So next time you’re planning a presentation, leave some space for silence and summarize your presentation with different words. Don’t let your audience’s last memory of your presentation be those boring slides near the end.