Once you’ve delivered all your content, you need to round up your presentation with the third and final part of your overall structure – your closing.
There are some classic terrible endings to a presentation, such as the shrug of the shoulders and a muttered ‘that’s it’, or clicking past your last slide so suddenly the audience is looking at your computer desktop or your PowerPoint workspace. Or just Stopping.
A strong closing section is important for several reasons:
- It’s your chance to reinforce your key messages or points with a swift recap.
- It’s also your opportunity to tell people what you want them to do with what you’ve just told them, to issue a call to action.
- Your close is the final impression you’ll leave with an audience.
Do you want that final impression to be good or bad?
Your closing section happens when you finish your content, but before you open the floor for questions. Don’t add anything new that hasn’t appeared earlier in your presentation as your closing section or conclusion is about recapping and reinforcing what you’ve already said. This is the final part in the ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell it to them, then tell them what you’ve just told them’ rule. If you do nothing else, make it clear this is the end and don’t just peter out, especially if you want to generate a round of applause or a vote of thanks at the end.
Some ideas for a strong closing section:
- A summary. Always include a summary of your main points
- Call to action. You must include a call to action. What do you want people to go away and actually do with all the information you’ve just given them?
- Image, video or sound effect. Just as in your opening section, an image, video or sound clip can make a very effective close.
- A quote. Leave your audience with a ‘final thought’, perhaps a pertinent quote from a great thinker, delivered verbally or on a slide.
- Revisit the opening. You can revisit your opening section, especially if you opened by previewing the end. ‘Do you remember that I said 30 minutes ago that I was going to tell you how we could all meet our targets? Do you all now understand how we’re going to do that?’
- A quiz – a fun way to recap your main points and also check that your audience have understood and remembered what you’ve said. Offer a small prize (chocolate or wine seem to do the trick)
- Something funny. Humour is also just as good as a close as it is as an opener. Sending your audience out with a smile or a laugh means they leave with a very positive impression.