If your job involves giving presentations, then you are probably aware of the importance of leaving a lasting impression. The goal of every presentation is to sell your ideas to everyone in the room. Like all forms of selling, the most crucial part is often the close. The success of your proposal often hinges on knowing how to end your presentation.
Closing the right way is important, as it can make or break your entire presentation. The beginning and end of the presentation are often the parts that people remember the most. The start grabs people’s attention, while the end leaves an imprint on everyone’s mind, like a pleasant and memorable goodbye.
So, how do you properly end a presentation? There are many effective ways to do so. However, one common mistake you would want to avoid is ending with a slide that simply says "thank you". This is a wasted opportunity as there are many more useful ways to spend your wrap-up time. Remember: you want to leave a strong impression at the end that would hopefully make your proposal or argument very convincing.
Stories are as old as civilisation itself. It is what makes humans unique – the ability to frame reality through narratives that stir emotions. Getting people emotionally invested is what selling ideas are all about. You want people to relate to your pitch or proposal on a human level. You want them to understand and appreciate it not just through facts and figures but also through things that matter to them deeply – their hopes, fears, dreams, and aspirations.
There was once a woman named Scheherazade who told stories so great that it prevented her husband king, Shahryār, from killing her, as was his custom for every new bride. She would tell him a new story every night and leave a cliffhanger. The king would be so engrossed with the story that he would have no choice but to keep her alive.
Ending your presentation with a story that resonates with your audience is the best way to engage them and leave them with great interest in your proposal. If you are presenting to a group of professionals, tell them a good career success story. If you are presenting to a mostly Gen Z group, tell them a good travel or love story. Make sure your audience not only remembers your proposal but also feels and appreciates it on a deeper level.
If there are any final thoughts aside from “thank you” worth sharing at the end of your presentation, it should be a quick review of everything that was discussed. To make sure that you put your message across effectively, it would help if you could reinforce the most salient points of your presentation at the end. You would want your audience to come out of your meeting with these things still fresh in their minds.
To make an effective summary, you need to break down your entire presentation into its key points. Review the outline or main structure of your presentation and look for the highlights. These will serve as your bullet points at the end of your talk as you leave your audience with your core message. By recapping the main essence of your presentation, you can simplify it in a way that is easier to digest and remember.
Sometimes the best presentations are also the shortest ones. If you can get your point across the fastest way possible, then your audience will appreciate you valuing their time while being given ample information. You can use this same approach when closing your presentation.
Leave them with a strong statement that will stick in their minds. It could be a short paragraph, one sentence, or a catchy phrase that captures the main point of your presentation. One tried and tested way of doing this is by using a relevant and memorable quote. Inspirational quotes from famous and successful people can leave a mark on your audience. It would be as if you are allowing a great thinker or a famous leader to make your closing remarks for you.
For instance, if you are making a presentation to salespeople, you will want to leave them with a few words of inspiration from one of the most iconic names in the business. Apple founder Steve Jobs was a human encyclopaedia of wisdom, one of them was: "I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance." This is an example of how to end your presentation with a quote.
You have reached the end of your presentation. You probably have been talking for an hour or so. So far, it has been word upon word, information upon information. Maybe it's time for a palate cleanser or a change of scenery, so to speak.
Ending your presentation with a striking visual image can speak volumes. In fact, when using the right image, it can say as many as a hundred words. This would have a similar effect as leaving your audience with a singular statement or a quote – it crystallises your message with something short and sweet. However, using an image would be more effective with people who are more visual in nature, especially with a younger audience. When you are able to appeal to the visual mind, you can leave a more lasting impression.
They say that the circle is the perfect shape. Few things are as satisfying as ending things the way you started them, which is why coming full circle in your presentation is often the best way to go.
Coming back to something you mentioned or referenced at the beginning of your talk is a great way to end your presentation, as it puts a perfect bow on your entire proposal. Planting something interesting in the beginning gives your audience a hook or something that needs to be resolved in the end. It heightens their anticipation and keeps their attention up throughout your presentation. Think of it as a cliffhanger that will keep you glued until the end.
Speaking of circling back, remember Scheherazade, the woman who told stories to the Persian king every night so that he would spare her life? Well, she did such a good job of leaving cliffhangers and staying alive that she kept the king enthralled for a thousand nights with a thousand stories. If this sounds familiar, it is because Scheherazade is the narrator of Arabian Nights, the famous and well-loved collection of stories as immortal as the power of storytelling itself. So, the next time you are presenting in front of people, think of it as not just a proposal but as a great story worth listening to.
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