Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Close The Loop

At the conclusion of your presentation, your audience wants you to wrap up the loose ends and bring everything into perspective. I call this “closing the loop.”

Most mediocre presenters close their presentations by saying something like this, “Well, that’s it. Are there any questions?” There may be a question or two, then, realizing they are out of time (or have exceeded their time), presenters say, “It looks like we are out of time. Thanks for coming.”

The outstanding presenter chooses a different closing. Rather than closing on the thoughts of an audience member, the exceptional presenter stops for questions several minutes before the conclusion of her presentation. After responding to questions and inviting the thoughts of others, she delivers her strong closing (the message she wants her audience to repeat long after her presentation), and ends with a simple and powerful, “thank you.” Closing the loop can be as easy as rephrasing your opening statement. Here is how it works:

Opening (The very first words spoken):
“Organizations around the world suffer from a shortage of good presenters. If you can do well what so many others do marginally, then you will be more successful. Good morning, I’m Mark Tamer and welcome to Presentations from A to Z.”

Closing (The very last words spoken AFTER the optional Q&A session):
“Remember, most organizations around the world suffer from a shortage of good presenters. As you leave here today, you are fully prepared to elevate yourself above the valley of mediocre presenters, and deliver exciting, effective presentations that promote your success! Thank you.”

Notice that you end with the two words “thank you.” These are the perfect words to let your audience know that the presentation has ended. Avoid diluting these two words by attaching superfluous words such as, “Thank you for being here today, this has been great and I truly appreciate it. I’ll be in the hallway if anyone wishes to…blah, blah, blah.”These extra words dilute your crisp closing and create the Alfred Hitchcock mystery effect. You have seen it, the awkward time when you are left wondering if it is over, is there more, or is it time to applaud?

If you feel compelled to convey extraordinary appreciation or to provide public service announcements, do so before your closing statement and the final “thank you.” Then smile as you receive a standing ovation!

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