How should you close a speech?
I recently had a query from a fellow coach who specializes in working with engineers and tech firms, and her complaint was that far too many speeches in her experience ended with a slide reading “Any Questions?” She was asking for alternative ways to end a presentation.
It would be hard to imagine a duller (and less engaging) way to finish, aside from simply walking off the stage in silence.
First, there’s the slide issue itself. Slide-ware such as PowerPoint doesn’t help; it distracts, because it requires us to multitask. All the research on multitasking shows that we can’t do it. We first pay attention to one thing, and then to another.
Moreover, the research on how our brains process visual information indicates that we don’t actually see what’s in front of us, but rather an approximation of it that our brain matches to reality based on its memory banks.
So, what really happens when we’re confronted in a meeting or a presentation with a speaker and a set of slides is that we look at the speaker—because we’re inherently more interested in people than pictures—and when our collective attention starts to wander, we look at the slides.