Business Language Skills: The SCRIPT for Ending Your Presentation
In this article, you will
- learn some techniques and useful phrases for ending a presentation in English
- practice key vocabulary related to ending a presentation
- learn about three uses for the structure “should have done.”
Newsmart Level 3 (B1+, TOEIC 389–550, TOEFL iBT 41–52, IELTS 4.5–5)
Published: on 15 July 2016
In previous business language skills posts, we’ve seen how to start a presentation and how to shine during your presentation. Now we need to look at the most important part of your presentation — the ending. If your ending is weak, it will undermine all the work that has gone before. But if the ending is powerful, it’ll leave your audience with a strong lasting impression.
We can’t give you a word-by-word script for ending every presentation. But we can give you a simple six-part SCRIPT of what to include. You don’t need to follow the six steps in order, but you do need to cover them all.
When you finish the main part of your presentation, make it clear that you’re now moving on to the ending. Say something like, “OK, so we’re coming toward the end now,” or “And that’s all I wanted to say about that last point.”
Every presentation needs one or two big takeaway messages — ideas that you want your audience to remember from the presentation. After all your stories, examples, facts, and figures, now’s the time to explain what it all means. Of course, you should have mentioned this a few times already during the presentation, but your conclusion is your last chance to make your takeaway message crystal clear.
Don’t use a phrase like “In conclusion” or “To sum up”; you’ll sound like you’re writing an essay. It’s better to ask a question: “So where is this all leading?” or “What does this all mean?” Now introduce your takeaway messages very clearly: “The key is point is, we’re …” or “All the evidence points to the same conclusion: we’re …”.
Next, remind your audience of the key points from the main body of your presentation, and show how they all support your big conclusions. This will help your audience to understand what was most important and what was just decoration. Also, of course, it will help them to remember those key points later.
A nice trick here is to use “we” when reminding your audience. This creates the impression that the audience shares your opinions: “As we learned at the beginning of the presentation …”; “Then we looked at …”; “We also saw earlier that …”.
Another trick involves checking what they remember: “You’ll remember we talked about …”; “Do you remember? We …”. The audience will find themselves nodding in agreement: “Yes, we remember.” But nodding will make them more likely to agree with your arguments, too.
Ideas and arguments are important, but they become a lot more powerful when you implement them — when you put them into practice in a real-life situation. So the ending is the perfect time to tell your best story: something that shows how your conclusions apply to real life. Just keep your story short and positive — you want your presentation to end on a high note.
One of the most powerful techniques is to return to a story that you told earlier. For example, let’s say you told a story in your introduction about a situation where some things went wrong. Then, in the main body of your presentation, you explained what you learned from that bad experience. In your ending, you could tell the story of what you did next time you were in the same situation, after learning all those lessons.
If you get this right, it will create a strong sense of closure — of completing something, of reaching the end. And of course, it will make your audience feel some very powerful, positive emotions.
After (hopefully) convincing your audience that your arguments are right, and perhaps playing with their emotions, you’re ready for your biggest challenge: persuading them to do something as a result of your presentation. Again, use “we” to make the audience feel they’re on your side: “So what do we need to do?”; “How can we help?”; “What specific actions can we take?”
Finally, you need to signal to your audience that you’ve reached the end of your presentation. The best way to do this is to thank them for their attention: “So … thank you. You’ve been a great audience. Thank you.” Of course, what you’re really saying here is, “Now’s the time for you to thank me by clapping your hands,” but hopefully they’ll work that out for themselves!
So what about a question-and-answer session? It depends on the type of presentation and the size of your audience. If you’re presenting to a small group of decision-makers, they need a chance to ask you questions. In fact, the whole presentation has probably been building up to this point, where the presentation becomes a negotiation.
But if your presentation is for a large audience, a question-and-answer session can easily spoil the whole effect. One or two audience members will want to express their opinions or simply show how clever they are, and the rest of the audience will quickly become bored. Even worse, after your carefully prepared presentation, you’ll find yourself talking about something unexpected and unplanned. Dealing with that is another business language skill. Some people do it well, but most of us can’t. The results are usually terrible.
So if you don’t need to have a question-and-answer session, don’t have one. End your presentation on a high note: “Thank you for your attention. You’ve been a wonderful audience. Goodbye.”
Originally published at www.getnewsmart.com.