After years of coaching business clients to develop and deliver powerful business presentations, I have come to realize that two slides must be eliminated from the business speaker’s slide deck: the one that says “thank you” and the “questions?” slide with the silly stick figure.
These slides are an attempt to avoid designing a powerful and meaningful closing. It’s the lazy person’s exit from a maze of countless, convoluted slides spewing confusing charts and bar graphs. At the end, the presenter is exhausted from reading all the content on the slides (think how the audience must feel) and doesn’t know how to end the presentation. Hence the stick figure or the “thank you.” It’s enough to slap your hand to your forehead and say, “Never again!”
Here are some tips for closing your presentation:
- Black out the last slide, (or strategically place a black slide here) step front and center and close the presentation with your own words spoken with conviction, passion, gravity, enthusiasm or some combination.
- Close with a story that will make your key idea stick (you could have a photo for the last slide that correlates with your story)
- Provide a verbal summary of your key points.
- Step to the center of the stage and provide a strong call to action followed by a verbal “thank you” and then let them know you would enjoy answering their questions.
Your closing as well as the opening should be the very last step in the speech writing process. You don’t know how to begin or end until you know the core message of your talk. Once you have that core message teased out from all of your content then you can begin thinking about how to grab the audience’s attention at the outset and finally how to have the audience heading out the exit doors with your message on their mind.
A presentation with an unsatisfying ending is like a gift without a bow or a phone call without a goodbye. Spend time thinking about how you want to leave the audience feeling when the talk is complete then design an ending to make it happen.