7 dos and 7 don’ts
‘Firsts and lasts’ are what people most remember in any form of communication so it is crucial – in terms of construction, preparation and delivery – to put high focus on how you open and close your business presentation.
7 dos for opening and closing
1. Be sure to get yourself an introduction – it quietens the room and frames you up. Furthermore, someone else can do your ‘boasting’ for you much more credibly that you can!
2. Apply a touch of extra enthusiasm and energy up front – it will ‘bounce back’ between yourself and your audience.
3. Plan precisely what you are going to say. Your opening and closing need to be short, sharp and punchy – which can only be achieved through scripting and rehearsal. You can be more informal and relaxed in the mid-section of your presentation.
4. Apply full eye contact – so as to engage your audience initially and make your Call to Action truly powerful and sincere at the climax. This is another reason for being word perfect during your opening and closing – you can’t be seen referring to notes at such crucial moments!
5. Be sure to reach a definite crescendo at the end. Ideally you need to create an ‘Applause Cue’ (whether or not you expect applause) – a clear indication to the audience that you have concluded.
6. Consider closing with a blank screen (press the B key in PowerPoint) – so as to conclude by bringing full attention back to you as you deliver the key message you want your audience to go away remembering.
7. If no.6 (blank screen at the end) works well for you, try using the technique as you open. This helps you to establish yourself as the prime focus before attention starts wandering towards the screen.
7 don’ts for opening and closing
1. Don’t leave your introduction to chance. Be sure to tell the person introducing you what you would like them to them to say about you – otherwise they may ramble and even steal your thunder by giving away your key points! Then, let them enhance it with some superlatives and even affection.
2. Don’t end on too many ‘final points’. Aim for one clear ‘Call to Action; alternatively, make it into three clear, connected points – creating rhythm and exploiting the ‘Power of Three’.
3. Don’t conclude with lots of words on a slide. Aim for one-line bullet points (maximum of three) or a blank screen that brings the focus back to yourself.
4. Don’t allow your PowerPoint presentation to crash out of ‘Slideshow’ mode at the end by going past the final slide – insert an extra slide (with a title or logo) to avoid this.
5. Don’t shy away from any applause you may receive at the end – make sure you remain facing forwards, ready to receive it graciously.
6. Don’t put the Q&A at the very end. You want them to leave with your final words (your Call to Action) ringing in their ears, not whatever happened to be the final question. Say: “Before I conclude, what questions do you have?”. Take the questions then thank the audience for asking them before announcing: “To conclude……then hit them with your big final point/Call to Action.”
7. Don’t allow the silence to linger if no one asks a question when the Q&A session is announced. Break the silence by saying: “Something I am often asked is….then pose and answer your own question based on a further point you want to make”. This usually triggers a series of genuine questions; the main problem with ‘no questions’ is usually that no one wants to go first.