I am going to offer a little tip that can enhance the impact you make as you open and close a business presentation.
As I have discussed before (here) ‘Firsts & Lasts’ are the most important part of any presentation because, as Rule 13 of the Rules of Magic states, ‘Firsts & Lasts are remembered’. Moreover, the way you open is crucial to engaging your audience up front; and making anything happen as a result of your presentation usually depends on a successful ‘Call to Action’ at the close.
So what’s the little tip? Switch off the PowerPoint for your opening remarks; or don’t even switch it on until you have made them. This enables you to establish yourself as a person – with all those people in the audience – before a great deal of their attention gets sucked into the screen by your PowerPoint presentation. They can look you up and down, tune into your voice and run through all the 'first impression checks’ that our brains undertake automatically. With a combination of luck and design they will hopefully decide that they like you. Then you are all set to deliver your big messages – with some support from PowerPoint if appropriate.
You can repeat this trick at the end, just prior to delivering your big ‘Call to Action’. Think about it – you are almost certainly asking your audience to do something or believe something; you may even be seeking to inspire them. That has to be better coming direct from you – straight form the heart and with full on eye contact – rather than via a list of bullet points on a screen.
It’s actually an old show business trick. Something like a big variety show would traditionally build to a big crescendo that was literally all singing/all dancing, with the stage full of people and the band playing at maximum volume. After much applause the curtains would close for a final time and then the star of the show would come out from behind them to say one more, very personal and heartfelt goodbye to his or her audience.
So how do you turn off the PowerPoint without powering down the projector? Again, I have discussed this (here) before. There is a little tool built into PowerPoint that many people don’t know about but is invaluable to presenters as it brings attention back to you, while also clearing away distractions. Simply press the B key and it blanks the screen; press it again and it brings the presentation back.