There are many tips for delivering a great presentation, and while it is important to grab your audience at the beginning, what you do at the end can make all the difference in your presentation's overall impact and success.
Getting rid of the "questions?" slide.
To start, let's talk about what you shouldn't do. You shouldn't end a presentation with a slide that asks "Questions?" Everyone does and there is nothing memorable about this approach.
Ideally, you should take questions throughout the presentation so that the question asked and the answer given is relevant to the content presented. If you choose to take questions at the end of your presentation, end instead with a strong image that relates to your presentation's content.
To be truly effective, take questions and then finish with a closing that is as powerful as the beginning of your presentation.
Here are three techniques for creating a memorable ending include:
1. A quote
Use a quote that will stay with your audience members long after they leave the room.
I saw a fantastic presentation on what it takes to motivate a staff. The manager had provided a list of tips and techniques that worked for her, but I most strongly remember how she ended the presentation.
She listed each of her approaches with this simple quote in white letters on a black background emblazoned on the screen behind her:
"The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a
great deal to do with productivity."--Tom Peters
Her entire presentation had been about positive reinforcement and while I can't recall all of her tips, I will always remember the quote.
2. A call to action
Most business presentations' primary purpose is to move the audience to action. Use the last few minutes of the presentation to reinforce the call to action you seek. Examples of strong calls to actions include:
"Join the Fight"
"Begin the Journey"
"Improve the Process"
Assume that your presentation has delivered the information needed by the audience members to move them in a direction and make your call to action definitive and instructional.
3. A compelling story
Ending your presentation on a story--especially if that story is personal or illustrates how the content presented affects others--is the best way to conclude.
Many times I see companies defaulting to a case study. While a case study is good, consider how you can turn it into a meaningful story--how does or could the work being proposed influence others' lives? Creating empathy with your audience and tying the story back to points made throughout the presentation ensures your presentation will hit the mark.
One of the very best examples I have seen of this in action is the presentation given by Scott Harrison of charity:water. He starts his speech with a personal story that draws you in and ends it with a heart-wrenching story about Rachel Beckwith that you won't soon forget.
You can see Scott's amazing use of a compelling story with an awesome call to action at this link: