SIXTEEN TIPS ON SUCCESSFULLY ENDING A SPEECH OR PRESENTATION
Have you ever listened to a presentation and were unsure whether what you just heard was the ending? It sounded like an ending, so you began clapping and a few other people hesitantly began clapping, too. But to your embarrassment, the speaker was not done. Audience members now focused on determining when the real ending was coming rather than on the content of the presentation. When the ending did come, it was so weak that the audience hesitated for a few awkward seconds until they were sure.
The ending is as important to a presentation as a captivating opening and an intriguing body. An ending must not be haphazardly put together.
HOW TO CLOSE A PRESENTATION EFFECTIVELY
- Make sure the audience is not left wondering, “Is this the ending?”
- The ending should be smooth and deliberate and should have the intonation and energy that clearly signal the conclusion.
- Mind mapping is a simple visual tool that helps you analyze the structure of your speech and therefore construct a powerful ending. In a mind map you might, for example, be able to identify two stories that build upon each other — one could be the opening and the other could tie up the ending. Read more about mind maps at www.mindmap.com.
- The ending should be concise. You don’t want the audience thinking, “OK, we get it, we really get it, it is time to stop talking.”
- Structure your ending to help focus the thoughts of the audience.
- Summarize your main points.
- End with a short story that relates to your presentation.
- Finish with a story or “thread” that relates to your theme or to your opening story.
- Don’t introduce new information.
- If appropriate, have a “call to action,” challenge or appeal that the audience members can reasonably implement. This can be very effective.
- Convey a sense of finality. Use words, energy and intonation to identify the ending and trigger applause.
- Use words such as “Let me end by saying…” or “In my presentation today, we have covered…”
- End with a quotation. Some of my favorites are at www.quoteland.com and www.quotegarden.com. You should identify who the quotation owner is.
- Make a dramatic statement or use a shock close.
- End with humor.
- Do not end with a question-and-answer session. These can be very low energy and can lead to an awkward ending, especially if there are no questions. Instead say, “Before I get into my closing comments, let me take this time to answer any questions.” Then you can finish with a powerful, memorable and energetic ending.