How do you wrap up a presentation? For many people it ends up with a half mumbled, “… and that’s it, thanks. Has anyone got any questions.” as the speaker tries to leave the stage as quickly as possible.
There are three different ways to end a presentation just as there are three different types of presentation. The types of presentation are to entertain, to inform or to influence. Every presentation must fall into one of these categories. These are not mutually exclusive types as it is well-known that to effectively inform people in a presentation it also has to be entertaining and to influence people you often have to inform them about the situation and the options available. However, every presentation must have a dominant purpose which is to inform, entertain, or influence.
For a presentation which is purely there to entertain your audience, e.g. an after dinner speech, the best way to end is to leave the audience on a high and tell them your name. Just like a stand up comedian would do. That way if they enjoyed the presentation they know who to ask for when they want to re-book you or buy your Christmas DVD.
Informative presentations are when you tell people all about something but leave it up to them to decide what and how they will use this new information. In this case the best ending is a summary of what you have been talking about. In this style of presentation it is quite likely that you will have a question & answer session at the end of the presentation. In this case you can summarise before the Q&A session, but I would always recommend re-stating the summary at the very end after the Q&A.
This is the most common type of presentation used in business these days. The purpose of the presentation being to make your audience do something or think something differently from that which they would have done prior to the presentation.
In this case it is imperative to end with a “call to action” in other words, to tell them what you would like them to do or to think in the future. In many respects this call to action is the whole reason for the presentation and they should leave your presentation with the call to action ringing in their ears. For this to happen it must be the last thing you say before you sit down, after any thanks and Q&A.
As with the Informative presentations, you may want to issue a call to action at the end of your speech but before the Q&A session, but if you do, always re-iterate the call to action after the Q&A, so that it is the very last thing you say.