Malcolm Kushner, a presentation skills specialist, warns that many presenters “crash the plane.” While the audience desires a smooth landing, many trainers and presenters manage to deconstruct the message they worked so hard to lift off.
Why are Conclusions Important?
A closure is not just “where you stop.” Many speaking professionals say that the conclusion is the most important part of any presentation. A great conclusion reinforces, summarizes, and “ties up” the session. Let’s take action to prevent YOUR crashing the plane the next time you present.
How to Close Effectively
Some basic rules:
- Close just once. Don’t bounce around.
- Don’t just stop. (“That’s all, folks!”)
- Give a hint you will conclude (“In conclusion…”) and then DO it.
Because training sessions and presentations are different animals, each demands a different form of conclusion. Let’s look at what is appropriate for each.
How to Conclude Presentations
Concluding a presentation should take less time than concluding a training session. Make sure that your closure is short, that it relates to the body of your speech, and is inspirational. Remember to close after you do a Q-A session, not before.
(Tip: For an even more powerful closure, try combining a Call to Action with any of the other suggestions below.)
Call to Action. Passionately seek commitment to a new or changed course.
Examples: 1. “When you do ________and _________, you’ll see a huge improvement in your staff’s attitude.” 2. “Join me! Be a part of the solution. Sign up right now.”
Return to the Opener.
Example: “Well, what happened to Mr. Albright, who you met at the beginning of my talk? (Tell them.) “… and it’s all because of the services we provided.”
Look to Past and Future.
Example: “Five years ago, the consulting industry…. Today, things have changed substantially. To meet those changes, we must…” (briefly summarize points.)
Use a Quotation, Joke, Poem.
Example: “As I close today, I’d like to quote Margaret Mead. She said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Let’s keep that in mind as we move forward with this challenging new project.”
Whether you are training or presenting, an effective closure should take 8%-10% of your total platform time. Plan this chunk carefully, and participants will remember your session with excitement and gratitude.