Corporate and professional development consultant Brian Tracy breaks an effective presentation into three parts: an attention-grabbing opening, a point-by-point development and a strong conclusion. But he also notes that without a memorable ending, the key points of a presentation are likely to be lost.
“The words you say at the beginning, and especially at the end of your talk, will be remembered longer than almost any other part of your speech,” the founder and CEO of Brian Tracy International wrote. “Some of the great speeches in history have ended with powerful, stirring words that live on in memory.”
At the same time that a presentation’s conclusion should be memorable, it also should refocus the overall message and signal to the audience that the presentation has ended. If audiences are left wondering whether or not a presentation is over— or if audience members are left unsure of the presentation’s primary message – they are unlikely to leave the presentation with a positive and memorable impression.
“If you don't spend some time considering how to end your presentation, you may find yourself floundering at the end,” Dee Clayton, public speaking trainer and author of “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys,” told Sparkol. “You may wonder why few people actually act on what you suggest and why there's no reassuring applause! But when you do put a bit of thought, planning and practice into your ending, you will look confident, inspire the audience into action and be able to leave the stage with your head held high.
Want to end your presentation with a bang? Check out the following best practices that will help you make your points and be memorable with the closing of your presentation:
1. Answer questions before the end of the presentation
If you want to make sure your presentation is forgettable and ineffective, then save audience questions for the end. Not only is a concluding Q&A session predictable and dull, but it can be difficult to control the mood when you don’t know what questions audience members might ask. You would hate for your final question to be entirely negative, leaving your entire audience with a sour taste in its collective mouth.
Instead, plan to answer audience questions before your planned conclusion. You’ll be able to provide the needed information while still designing an effective conclusion that ends on a high note.
2. End the presentation on a high note
It’s easy for a presentation to drag a bit toward its end, but an enthusiastic and energetic conclusion is vital to an effective and memorable presentation. After all, if you aren’t excited about your topic, why should they be?
Likewise, audiences who walk away from presentations bored or depressed aren’t likely to even want to remember your message. Even when presenting negative data, try to end the presentation with a sign of hope.
3. Bring your presentation full circle
Audiences will understand you’ve reached the logical end of your presentation if you conclude your message by circling back to its beginning. Bringing a presentation full circle also reminds the audience of earlier information to really drive home the overall message and tie everything up in a tidy bow.
Presenters can come full circle with strategies such as posing a question in the introduction that is later answered in the conclusion or by setting the stage of a story at the beginning of a presentation that is later concluded at the end.
4. Include an end-of-presentation slide
Possibly the most effective method of signaling a presentation’s conclusion is adding a closing slide to the deck. The final slide can include a summary, a call to action, a relevant joke or an interesting quote that references your overall topic.
In fact, any of the closing techniques mentioned in this article can be included in an end-of-presentation slide. It can be made even more memorable with the inclusion of eye-catching graphics or animations or by posing a rhetorical question that keeps audience members pondering long after the presentation has concluded.
5. End with a memorable story
Ending a presentation with a compelling and memorable story is an effective way to not only personalize the message but also leave a lasting impression on an audience.
The story might detail how the topic impacted the presenter, or it could describe how the content affected someone else. Even if a personal story isn’t available, a case study with profound results can also end a presentation positively and memorably.
6. Add an end-of-presentation GIF
People respond to visual content, and an animated GIF is even more effective at catching attention and making an impression than a still image. Beautiful.ai users not only can add GIFs to any slide using the image icon, but they also can use Smart Slide templates to create their own animated infographics, dazzling audiences by making data come to life. Just input the numerical data and watch as artificial intelligence transforms the digits into lively animated charts and graphs.
7. Thank your audience and your support
If an audience still hasn’t caught on that you’ve reached the end of your presentation, thanking them for attending should drive that point home. While you might have thanked your audience at the beginning of the presentation, there’s nothing wrong with displaying additional appreciation at its conclusion.
In addition to thanking your audience for their time, the end of a presentation can also include thanks to your support team, whether that’s the person who provided you with data, the organization that conducted your research or even the colleague who helped design the presentation itself.