by Guila Muir
How to Conclude Your Session With Panache
Malcolm Kushner, a specialist on the use of humor in presentations, warns that many presenters “run out of gas,” or dribble weakly away, at the end of their presentations. Worse yet, many “crash the plane.” When the audience desires a smooth landing, many trainers and presenters manage to deconstruct much of what they worked so hard to lift off and keep in the air.
Why are Conclusions Important?
A closure is not just “where you stop.” Many speaking professionals say that the conclusion is the most important part of any presentation. A great conclusion reinforces, summarizes, and “ties up” the session. Let’s take action to prevent YOUR crashing the plane the next time you present.
How to Close Effectively
Some basic rules:
- Close just once. Don’t bounce around.
- Don’t just stop. (“That’s all, folks!”)
- Give a hint you will conclude (“In conclusion…”) and then DO it.
Because training sessions and presentations are different animals, each demands a different form of conclusion. Let’s look at what is appropriate for each.
How to Conclude Presentations
Concluding a presentation should take less time than concluding a training session. Make sure that your closure is short, that it relates to the body of your speech, and is inspirational. Remember to close after you do a Q-A session, not before.
(Tip: For an even more powerful closure, try combining a Call to Action with any of the other suggestions below.)
Call to Action. Passionately seek commitment to a new or changed course.
Examples: 1. “When you do ________and _________, you’ll see a huge improvement in your staff’s attitude.” 2. “Join me! Be a part of the solution. Sign up right now.”
Return to the Opener.
Example: “Well, what happened to Mr. Albright, who you met at the beginning of my talk? (Tell them.) “… and it’s all because of the services we provided.”
Look to Past and Future.
Example: “Five years ago, the consulting industry…. Today, things have changed substantially. To meet those changes, we must…” (briefly summarize points.)
Use a Quotation, Joke, Poem.
Example: “As I close today, I’d like to quote Margaret Mead. She said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Let’s keep that in mind as we move forward with this challenging new project.”
How to Conclude Training Sessions
Most trainers do not adequately close their sessions. By not doing so, they unwittingly cheat their participants out of an opportunity to reinforce learning. A well-crafted training conclusion provides a spectacular opportunity to reinforce learning points–interactively. Try one of these methods at the end of your next training session:
Partners Test Each Other: Tell participants to work with a partner. Each partner chooses 1-4 learning outcomes from the course and develops a test question that relates to each outcome. (Examples: “What are the five essential guidelines for developing web-based training?” “Please describe three different ways you could approach an inebriated civilian.”) Have the partners verbally test each other using these questions. (Optional: each pair could then choose its highest-quality question and test the class as a whole.)
Snowball Fight: Ask the participants to legibly write one question about the material on a piece of paper. Have them crumple it into a “snowball” and then, simultaneously with the whole class, stand and toss it at another workshop participant. After picking the closest one up, the participants all find a partner and read the question to that person. Each participant must answer the question to their partner’s approval.
Application: In pairs, each partner describes to the other what s/he particularly learned in the workshop and how s/he will use it.
Whether you are training or presenting, an effective closure should take 8%-10% of your total platform time. Plan this chunk carefully, and participants will remember your session with excitement and gratitude.
Guila Muir is the premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters on the West Coast of the United States. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great presenter: www.guilamuir.com
© Guila Muir.