How many times have you been so relieved to finish your presentation that you rush through the end, muttering something along the lines of, “And that’s all folks; feel free to email me questions,” before collecting your things and jetting off?
We have to be cognizant not to stumble toward the end.
Think of how the top runners in the Boston Marathon find their pace. Though they quicken at times, the best of the best don’t lose gusto at the end. You, too, must keep your energy strong all the way through the conclusion.
So often, we put most of our prep and thought into the beginning of our presentations and the content that will immediately follow. Then once we reach the end, it becomes a mad dash to get it over with. Don’t make that mistake. It would be like training for the swim and bike parts of a triathlon, but not the run.
Your listeners have the highest attention levels at the beginning and at the end of presentations-which means those last few minutes are crucial.
To maximize the impact of those last precious moments of your presentation, heed these six tips:
1. Go back to your key message. Restate your point of view, the specific action you want your listener to take, and the benefit to the listener.
2. Make it memorable with what we call a SHARP. Tell a story that will linger in your listener’s mind long after your presentation has ended, or share a simple quote that captures the feeling behind the action you want your listener to take.
3. Step forward, physically and verbally. Often, we’re inclined to physically step backward at the close of a presentation. Verbally, we may step back by softening our tone and saying something like, “I really hope you enjoyed…” Stand firm and stand forward until the very end.
4. Hold eye communication. Don’t take a sideways glance at your visual, nor look down at the floor. Keep your focus on your listeners to keep them engaged.
5. Maintain a calm, collected composure-even afterward. Stick around, and chat with your listeners. Don’t unhook your computer and rush out. Taking flight shows a lack of confidence, as well as a lack of respect for your audience. Be calm and cordial.
6. Even if you feel like you bombed, don’t show it. I know there’s a temptation to grimace, sigh or even roll your eyes when you feel disappointed in yourself. Please, even if you’re feeling bummed, there’s no need to let everyone else know. That damages your credibility. Keep that lightness on your face until the very end.
Ben Decker is the CEO Decker Communications, a training, coaching and consulting firm for Fortune 500 companies and startups, alike. His first book, “Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action,” was released this month. A version of this article originally appeared on the Decker Communications blog.