The most strategic parts of a powerful presentation are its beginning and the conclusion. This is where you grab your audience’s attention and leave them with a final impression. Between these two vital areas are the support details, of course, but most listeners will remember the first and last portions above all.
If you have selected a worthwhile topic and developed it in a meaningful way that meets your audience’s need for information, all you have left is the conclusion.
Here are a few suggestions to help you finish strong:
Restate your main point.
This is called the “sandwich effect,” because you begin and end with the same idea, a main point that focuses the presentation for clear-cut development and returns your audience’s attention to the same idea as you conclude. You may want to say it a bit differently the second time or you could use repetition of a few key words or phrases to remind listeners that you’ve come full circle.
Summarize the general concept.
As you mention the overarching concept that can be gleaned from your talk, recite a brief list of the central support details that will help your listeners to retain them. Research shows that an audience will forget 85% of what it hears within 24 hours, so give them extra help in holding on to your presentation.
Offer a principle.
Otherwise known as “the moral of the story,” your final observation may be packaged as a moral imperative, a spiritual directive, or a social necessity. Prod listeners to accept a universal concept that may have a bearing on their lives or the lives of others. The principle may be a natural outgrowth of your speech, or it may point the audience in a more far-flung direction. Either way, you are providing them with a useful application from your talk.
Tell a story.
Finishing with a heart-felt anecdote or a stirring historical account taps listeners’ emotions and builds their interest to feverish heights. Everyone likes a human interest story, so include one as a linkage between your presentation and individuals’ everyday lives.
Take literary license.
Recite a few lines from a nostalgic poem, a contemporary song, or a moving speech by a famous person. Practice the lines before your presentation so that they resound with an emotional or uplifting tone that will be impressed upon the audience. You may even ask them to sing along as you conclude with a few bars or chorus from a rousing rendition of a marching song or soothing lyrics of a thoughtful hymn.
Use technical support.
Some speakers save the best for last like PowerPoint. As you wind down your talk, flash on the overhead with your slogan, motto, principle, or presentation title to help listeners visually retain this important information.
Whatever you do, use your closing moments to influence your listeners to do what you want them to with the high point of the presentation. Don’t overlook this rich opportunity to touch the souls and minds of your audience.