It's the night before the big day, and you're trying to keep calm and put the finishing touches on your masterpiece.
Fear not! A well-prepared ending is a memorable ending, and the right closer will banish any mid-speech hiccups to distant memory, ensuring that your audience walks away both informed and impressed.
Here are seven surefire strategies you can use to ensure that you bring your presentation home with a bang:
1. A sound bite
Distilling your message down to a memorable statement (or even a single word or phrase) is an effective way to communicate the core of your presentation. This is especially true in the age of 140-character tweets and ever-shortening attention spans.
Aim to create a sound bite that is simultaneously memorable and authentic, all while condensing your message into a tweet-length nugget of wit.
2. A surprising fact
Audiences have grown accustomed to hearing speakers deliver a neat conclusion that ties the entire presentation back to the opener.
While this is certainly an effective way to bring cohesion to your presentation, standard closers simply aren't as memorable as unexpected cliffhangers.
In one popular motivational speech, for example, Kevin O'Leary cites the number of billion-dollar companies outside of North America (highlighting that more exist outside than within the continent) to spur his audience to action.
Leaving your audience with a surprising (but related!) fact re-ignites engagement, keeping them interested long after they exit the auditorium.
3. A call to action
Take advantage of the interest you've built with a specific call to action. Whether it's joining a movement, buying your book, or contacting your organization, clearly communicate the next step that should follow from your presentation, and then inspire your audience to pursue it.
4. A story
There's no way around it: humans like stories. A good story evokes emotion, making us laugh, cry, or both. Emotions connect us on an empathetic level that far outlasts the impression left by a fact-heavy speech, and can more effectively inspire your audience to take action.
Engage your audience with a concluding anecdote that ties back to the main points of your presentation to really make them stick (bonus tip: stories make great introductions, too).
The power of story is the cornerstone of any good talk, as we're increasingly seeing emphasized on the big stage at TED.
5. A question
Ending with a question can both spur your audience to action and inspire immediate reflection on the points communicated during your presentation.
Because questions stimulate our neocortex, the part of our brain associated with conscious thought and language, your query may serve to re-engage your listeners as they consider your presentation within a more personal context.
6. An image (or video)
Most people are visual learners--65 percent, to be exact. Our brains dedicate an incredible amount of energy to processing visual images, so you should leverage that natural capacity with a powerful image or video at the end to drive your message home.
Or, take a page out of psychologist Barry Schwartz's book and end your speech with a memorable cartoon.
7. "One more thing"
Steve Jobs was famous for ending his presentations with "one more thing." This attention-grabbing tactic acts as a kind of postscript--a final cherry on top of your presentation that can really make it shine, while also indicating that you are, in fact, wrapping up.
Ultimately, the key to any good presentation is to create a lasting final impression and convey a sense of closure to your audience. With these tips at your disposal, you'll be sure to leave your audience with a memorably positive impression.