Weak Conclusions Wreck Presentations
Your introduction got the audience interested. You laid out a great benefits-oriented presentation and now it’s time for the close. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Presentations can’t simply stop—they need to conclude. Here are the top five problems that sink presentations:
Novelty. The conclusion is not the time to add new information, develop new lines of argument or introduce additional material. It shouldn’t be used to cover things you forgot or didn’t have time for, in the body of the presentation.
Redundancy. It’s important to reinforce the central idea of your message, but reinforcement is more than simple restatement. If you simply restate your message, it becomes redundant.
Linguistic rather than psychological closure. Psychological closure is achieved when the audience knows you’ve finished with your presentation. There is a sense of finality, completeness and satisfaction. Linguistic closure occurs when you end a presentation with utterances such as “thank you” “that completes my presentation” or “that’s all.” Compared to the elegance of psychological closure, linguistic closure is unsophisticated and boorish.
Uncertainty. Is the speaker finished yet? Should we applaud or not? If these are the thoughts running through the minds of your audience, you haven’t guided them to an effective close. You’ve either promised them to conclude several times and disappointed them each time, or you’ve simply stopped because you’ve run out of time or things to say. In either case, you’ve left them in limbo.
Disconnect. There are any number of books on public speaking that advise people to conclude with a quotation or an anecdote. While these can be effective techniques, they are too often disconnected from the subject of the presentation. People find a quotation or a story they like and use it without making the connection clear for the audience.
Don’t be a victim of chaotic conclusions. Effective conclusions bring everything full circle, reinforce the key messages and let the audience know what the next step is.
As the leading authority on the language of influence, Dr. Joseph Sommerville shows professionals how to increase visibility, credibility and sales through more persuasive communication. 1,500 audiences from 25 countries have benefited from his programs on how to increase business through better communication. He is the President of Peak Communication Performance (www.peakcp.com). Book him to speak to your organization at Sommerville@Peakcp.Com