Jimmy Durante, one of America's most popular personalities of vaudeville and early television, used to sign off each of his radio and TV programs with, "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." Shrouded in an air of mystery [who is Mrs. Calabash?**], this line became his signature.
Durante knew how to keep the audience's attention until the last moment and end his presentation memorably. We, as business presenters, need to learn to do the same.
So that means:
- No trailing off at the end of your presentation: "Well, I guess that's about it."
- No Q&A lasting until time has run out.
- No mad dash to cover the last 15 slides: "Oh I didn't realize we were out of time. I only have a few more slides here; I'll run through them quickly."
- No wasting precious minutes telling the audience how delighted you are to have been there speaking with them.
HOW TO CLOSE A PRESENTATION
When thinking about the last 3-5 minutes of your presentation, you must answer the question, "What do I want my audience to remember/walk away with?" This answer should dictate what closing technique and content will be most effective.
Many of the same techniques that work in creating a powerful opening will also be effective as a closing: a startling statistic; humor; a clever definition; a rhetorical question. You can also:
- Summarize your key points in a succinct, memorable way.
- Reach back to the beginning of your presentation -- remind the audience what you said at the outset and how your information has solved the problem or explained the situation.
- Wrap up with a story, quote or anecdote that summarizes your message.
- Call the audience to action -- ask them to make a change, embrace new information or approve your proposal.
What other techniques have you used or seen used to powerfully close a presentation?