The last thing you say may be the most remembered. You must put
as much time into selecting and practicing your closing as you
put into any other part of your presentation.

Your closing could be motivational, challenging, humorous,
thoughtful, respectful of the length of the presentation, or it
could restate your point in a different way. This ending segment
will have a strong influence on what the audience takes home with
them when you are done.

Please, at sometime during your talk ask the audience to do
something. Many a great NO ZZZZZs talk went no further than the
walls of the meeting room because the audience wasn’t moved to
action. If you haven’t ask them to do something by now, the
closing is your last chance.

If the subject is appropriate, I happen to be fond of humorous
closings for several reasons. If you leave them laughing and
applauding, you will exit, but an extremely positive impression
about you will remain.

Another good reason to leave them laughing is that the room will
not be deadly silent as you are walking back to your seat. I hate
when that happens. I do love laughter and feeling good; finishing
a talk humorously gives me and the audience an opportunity to
feel great.

Talks that are for entertainment purposes only should
generally leave the audience laughing. Finally, if the subject is
not appropriate to end with laughter,. you could end with a
touching story or quotation that leaves the audience thoughtful
and quiet. Even the most serious subjects can benefit from humor,
but the humor should be sprinkled throughout the body of the
presentation. Don’t put it at the end because closings are
powerful and the audience will think your overall attitude toward
the subject is flippant.

This same technique can be very effective in ending a mostly
humorous presentation. Have them laughing all along while you
make your points. Then finish seriously. This contrast will
create a great impact. It will convey the fact that you believe
in a lighthearted approach to the subject, but the results are
very serious to you. A great resource for closings and lots of
other good material is the book, “How to Be the Life of the
Podium: Openers, Closers & Everything in Between to Keep Them
Listening” by Sylvia Simmons.

Here’s a guaranteed (but cheap and sleazy) way to get a standing
ovation. All you have to do is have the audience stand and
applaud themselves. It goes like this:

“I don’t want any applause, not that I was going to get any
anyway, but what I would like is for everyone to stand up [have
everyone stand up and wait until they are standing before you
continue]. Now give me a really great round of applause for the
folks who made this meeting possible and for yourselves, the
members of this great organization. Thank you. I’m Tom Antion.
(This doesn’t mean I’m cheap and sleazy does it?)

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