5 Powerful Ways to Close a Presentation

July 29, 2013

Man Bowing on Stage in Empty Concert HallWe live in a world of judges: You will be judged by each and every person during your next presentation.

Sound intimidating? It should be. No one ever said giving presentations is easy. So, how do you minimize the level of judgment that will be placed upon you?

For starters, you need to know how to open your presentation with confidence and purpose. Last week, I offered up 5 Powerful Ways to Open a Presentation. This week, I will help you with your close.

Your close is just as important as your open -- it's your lasting impression on your audience, your final words of wisdom. Your open grabs people's attention; your close leaves them in awe. Here are five powerful ways to do that:

1. Circle Back Around

I love films that provide me with a sense of closure. One movie that comes to mind is Mel Gibson's film, Apocalypto, a tale about a warrior fleeing possible death from the Mayans in the deep recesses of the jungle. What makes this movie beautiful is that it starts with the cameras entering the jungle and ends with the camera exiting the jungle, providing a complete sense of closure. As an audience member you completely understand that the adventure is over for now.

2. Build Up to Something

Since we are taking some inspiration from Hollywood in this post, make sure you take a lesson from M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Sixth Sense: Have a climatic ending! Create that "I had no idea… " experience.

3. Repeat the Important Stuff

Author Daniel Pink often states that presentations are all about brevity, levity and repetition. I want to focus on the latter. If you are making a handful of significant points throughout your talk, use your ending to remind your audience of those items.

4. Have a Call to Action

I have seen one too many presentations where the presenter never invites the audience to do something with the new information that was just presented. Audiences are always thinking - "What's the next step?" Download a PDF? Buy a book? Contact someone? The audience has just invested 30, 60, or 90 minutes looking for a value-add, so make sure you provide purpose to your talk by creating a compelling call to action.

5. Inspire

Every great journey begins with a single step. Unfortunately, most people aren't willing to even take that action. If you find it challenging to do any of the above, then seek to create inspiration. Every human being loves a good "pick me up," so if you can encourage your audience to take that first step, you have added more benefit than you can possibly imagine.

Are you going to be judged during your next presentation? Sure thing. Should you be nervous? You bet. Are you going to look amazing embracing these principles? Oh yeah…you've got this covered.

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. 

Read More: 5 Powerful Ways to Open a Presentation