Does Your Presentation Formula Need to be Revamped?
You know the drill.
Open with an introduction and end with a Q&A, right?
Are you thinking, “That’s the way I’ve always done it and it works just fine!”?
That may be the problem.
As people change and evolve, so must your methods for reaching them.
What seemed to work 10 years ago likely isn’t as effective now.
Believe it or not, the way you begin and end have big implications for the power of your presentation.
Here’s what you need to know about beginning and ending a presentation in a way that will stick with your audience.
Give your presentation bookends
No, you’re not going to use actual bookends in your presentation. You might get some funny looks. Unless you’re a bookend salesperson.
The point is that you need to grab the audience’s attention as soon as you arrive on stage.
At the end, send them out with a bang.
People will remember the first thing they hear and the last thing they hear.
Your job is to make sure both matter.
How many fish (your audience) will you catch with a hook like this?
“Hi, I’m Susan. I’m going to give you the 27 steps for filling out an incident report. Let’s begin.”
You may have actually fallen asleep reading that because it was a total snoozefest.
The fact is, you have a short window of opportunity to grab your audience’s attention.
After that, you’ve lost them.
In order to build trust, anticipation and connections with your audience, you have to take advantage of the first moment of impact.
Here are some ways you can do just that:
- Start with a rhetorical question and a startling fact. Did you know that Google was originally called BackRub? I’m Cindy and I’m here to tell you how to take your personal branding to the next level.
- Engage the audience. “Raise your hand if you ate breakfast this morning. Wow, only about a third of you! My name is Susan, and my research proves that a good breakfast is the most important part of losing excess weight.”
- Surprise your audience. Think how memorable it would be if you entered the room from the back, singing a song. Maybe you have another unique talent to share that would make your entrance unforgettable, like juggling or riding a unicycle. Be creative!
Your hook lets your audience know that this isn’t going to be an ordinary presentation like the ones they’ve heard a hundred times.
End with a message that sticks
Leave your audience with a meaningful directive or give them compelling information to chew on. Here are couple ways you can close out your talk:
- Summarize the important points that you made during your presentation. It’s a proven fact that repetition increases retention rates.
Consider what Dale Carnegie had to say about giving a speech:
“Tell the audience what you’re going to say, then say it, then tell them what you said.”
- End with a call to action. You’ve probably heard the words JFK used to inspire his audience.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Inspiring your audience to take action ends your presentation on a powerful note.
Begin and end with a bang
Your audience is there because they want to hear what you have to say.
Hook them from the very beginning with a startling statistic or a rhetorical question to get them thinking and draw them in.
When your presentation comes to a close, leave your audience with a call to action that will keep them pondering your words long after they’ve left.
Takeaway: Practice different openings and closings that will grab your audience for your next presentation.