One of the nice things about WordPress is that you can see what people are searching for online which brings them to your site. The commonest search string which makes people end up at my site is “how to end a presentation”. I have to say, with all the posts I have written, the vast majority of people are searching mainly for ways to conclude their presentations. You would think that, having managed to get started, then delivering your whole talk and negotiating your way through all those slides, people would be relaxed about the conclusion. But clearly this is not so. Why?
Some of your audience will have drifted off during your pitch so I guess one very important aspect of your presentation is making sure the audience remembers a few key points, if nothing else, from your presentation. If you are marketing, or telling someone about a scientific breakthrough you don’t care if they can’t remember the fine details but you DO want them to retain a few points.
How to end memorably?
This is tricky. I would never use more than one Conclusion slide. I have seen people use 2 or even 3. But that’s just lazy. Keep it to a single slide and try not to cram it full of detail. Reinforce 3 points from your pitch. If you have more than that they will switch off (I know this is a generalisation but it’s true for most audiences). As soon as they see “Conclusions” they start packing up. Their brains will be half way out of the room. They put things in their bags, and sit up straight, ready to leave the room, have coffee, chat, whatever. It’s an audience wake up call! So you only have a very brief window to convey your parting shots — so keep them brief, simple, with as few words as possible. Use the same words as you have used throughout the talk. Don’t ever introduce new material! Your parting slide should simply bring together everything you have been saying throughout your presentation.
Do you leave the Conclusion slide on the screen when you have finished? I still prefer a plain black slide which helps focus the attention back on YOU. If you leave a slide with words or a picture or (God forbid) a “Thank You!” slide, their attention will wander to that and they will pay less attention to you. Having sensory deprivation (namely the black slide) puts the focus fairly and squarely on you. The only thing they can do is listen to you.
You can then move on to the Q&A section which we can deal with at another stage.