The conclusion is a crucial, but often ignored, component of a professional presentation. Many professionals tack on a presentation conclusion almost as an afterthought, wasting a valuable opportunity with the audience. The end of a presentation is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression. A powerful ending keeps audience members' attention long after the final slide, encouraging them to continue the conversation.
Use a Call to Action
For listeners, it is frustrating to attend a professional presentation that ends on a vague note, with no guidance about how to use the information that was given. Add value and provide direction by closing your next presentation with a strong call to action. Your presentation conclusion should tell audience members exactly how to proceed to experience the benefits you've just outlined. Your call to action should give audience members the tools they need to move forward, such as a link to download a PDF action plan, for example, or suggestions for related apps.
Avoid a generic call to action like, "Talk to me today for more information." Instead, use a call to action that is specific to your presentation content. Remind the audience members why the information is important and create a sense of urgency. For example, in a professional presentation about next-generation manufacturing technology, you might explain that by investing early audience members can see 75 percent higher returns than someone who waits six months. Then end with a targeted call to action that responds to that information. To give more effective presentations, consider what is most important to your listeners and use it to drive your points home in the call to action.
By the time a professional presentation winds up, many audience members will be only partially engaged. Chances are, your listeners expect the presentation to end in a conventional way. To bring their focus back into the room, find a way to surprise or shock them.
If you have the resources, aim for a big surprise. End the presentation with a video testimonial or personal appearance from a celebrity or influential industry player. Tell a relevant story that has a shocking conclusion. Provide dramatic photo evidence that demonstrates how your information impacts listeners' lives.
For professional presentations that do not warrant an over-the-top surprise, choose a conclusion that contrasts with the nature and tone of the content. If you've given a serious, formal presentation, a light-hearted anecdote can shift the tone dramatically and get the audience listening. For presentations that deal in more human-centered content, a shocking statistic will provide a strong contrast. The sudden change in the tone or style can refocus listeners and ensure that you have their full attention.
Crafting a powerful ending to your professional presentation requires extra consideration, but the rewards can be significant. When your conclusion captures listeners' attention and provides a concrete action plan, you're more likely to achieve the overall presentation goal.
(Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)