Have you ever attended a presentation in the past where the presenter stopped speaking, you weren’t sure they had finished (and from the looks on other people’s faces, they weren’t sure either), and the presenter had to TELL you they had finished?
You might also like:
A moment like this can be quite awkward and embarrassing for both the audience and the presenter. As a member of the audience, the reason we feel awkward is because we innately know that presenting is a performance, and so we naturally expect a more impactful ending.
Generally, audiences will remember most the last thing they hear in a presentation, so it’s important to wrap up your presentation effectively. This means leaving your audience in a place where they are clear about any action they should take, or are clear about how they should think or feel in relation to the topic and objective of your presentation.
Follow these steps for an impactful ending:
Firstly, pause and signal clearly that you’re about to finish. If some of the audience have switched off a little in the middle of your presentation (it happens!), they will start to listen closely again at this point.
Then, make your summary, giving a brief overview of what has already been said. The summary is a reflection of what your presentation was about and looks back. A good summary gives your listeners time to reflect on the content and builds up to your conclusion.
The conclusion is the very final part of your presentation and is a reflection of the ‘why’ or the purpose of your talk. It looks forward to what you want people to think or do afterwards. Very importantly, it should completely reflect and be an echo of your key message.
Different kinds of conclusions include:
- Assuring your audience that they’re better informed.
- A call to action
- Making a recommendation
The conclusion is the destination of your journey and the most important part of your presentation.
Many people don’t realise that there are two parts to the ending of an effective presentation – a summary and a conclusion. And actually, one without the other doesn’t work very well.
If you just summarise the main points with no conclusion, it comes across as an anticlimax; the audience feels a sense of ‘so what?’
If you only include a conclusion with no summary, the conclusion can come too quickly for some listeners and its impact is lessened.
An effective presentation ending NEEDS to have a summary and a conclusion. When you do it well, not only will your message be remembered, but YOU will stand out as a great presenter.