Tuesday, July 6, 2010

End with Fireworks

What is the best part of any July 4th fireworks display? The ending of course!

Why should speeches and presentations be any different?

So often speakers end a presentation with Q and A.

This is a mistake.

Why end on such a vulnerable, unpredicable and potentially unexciting note? Why end your presentation with someone else's question instead of with your message?

People remember most what they hear first and last. So often we think much more about how we begin a presentation and hardly at all about how to end it.

From the Green Room: End with fireworks. Put your Q and A second to last. Close with your best material.


Anonymous said...

You are so right!! A closing Q & A almost always makes a presentation end on either a flat note or a weird tangent. Thank you for this very helpful post.

Evgenya Shkolnik said...

You make a good point, but in the case of academic talks, where the culture/tradition is such that questions come at the end (or are interjected within the talk), this would be difficult to implement. Any suggestions?


Sarah Gershman said...

FIrst, I think it's a great idea to interject questions throughout the presentation. In regards to the culture of academic talks, I would suggest that this is one of several areas where some improvement would make a big difference in the overall quality and impact of the presentations. I would suggest speaking to the moderator beforehand and then letting the audience know that you will be making a closing statement following the last question. Thank you for reading!

Jake said...

Perhaps you can take a page from politicians: Interviews are not an opportunity to answer questions, they are an opportunity to deliver a message. Also, as Sarah says, a closing statement following the last question can add the that will send them home happy.

Sarah Gershman said...

Jake - I actually think that Q and A in a presentation is not the same thing as in an interview. It is critical that the presenter fully listen to and clearly answer the question asked. Q and A is a wonderful opportunity for the speaker to show his/her listening skills as well as speaking prowess. Thanks for reading and for your comment!