Imagine you are at the end of a long flight.
Your pilot signals her initial descent, lowers the landing gear, and nears the runway. You squirm in your seat, and think about how you cannot wait to get off the plane. As you longingly peer out the window you see the white stripes on the runway streaking past you. Surprisingly, just before the wheels touch down, the pilot revs the engines and quickly ascends into the clouds.
You immediately wonder what is wrong. The pilot, however, comes over the speakers and says, "hi folks, don't worry, nothing is wrong, I just felt like flying a little more today."
Now imagine the pilot does this four or five more times. How frustrated are you?
Presentations and flights have something in common - the best ones conclude well. As an audience member it can be frustrating when a speaker struggles to land the plane at the end of an otherwise effective presentation.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and heard the presenter say "in conclusion" only to keep rambling for fifteen more minutes? How about the speaker who says "let me finish with this" six times before they stop talking?
Phrases like these indicate a speaker has not properly planned their landing and the audience, who is ready to leave, quickly grows frustrated.
Perhaps even more ineffective, is a conclusion that is little more than a slide that says, "Thank You." That is like cutting power to the engines right before the wheels touch down and letting the wheels slam violently onto the runway.
It leaves the audience wondering, "what was that all about?"
A conclusion is your lasting impression on your audience. If your presentation is to be memorable, your conclusion must be designed and executed well.
An effective conclusion will do three things.
- Offer a clear ACTION STEP
- Sum up the presentation with one BIG IDEA
- CEMENT the idea with a compelling story or data point.
It's as simple as ABC: Action step, Big Idea, Cement with a story.
How you end will determine if your audience leaves feeling inspired or indignant.
As a presenter it is tempting to focus on your introduction and the body of your presentation and overlook the conclusion. If you are to inspire others to action you need to write out your conclusion every time you speak and you need to leave time to deliver a conclusion without going over your allotted time limit. It's that important.
When you speak, land the plane smoothly and you will be amazed at the results.