As I always say, Opening and Closing are the two most important parts of any presentation. Aside from being the elements that audiences are most likely to remember, your opening is key to engaging your audience so that they listen, and your closing is where you spell out what you want them to think and do as a result of your presentation.
So how do you create a real impact as you make that all-important final ‘Call to Action’? You could display a slide listing the key points of your presentation. And if you restricted those points to three (exploiting the ‘Power of 3’) and kept each to a one-liner, it would probably be quite effective.
But consider for a moment how much more effective your conclusion could be if you forgot the bullet points and worked with a blank screen. At this point in almost any presentation you are usually asking your audience to do or believe something. How much better is that going to be if it comes directly from you – with full-on eye contact – as you are seen to speak from the heart, rather than via a bunch of bullet points? Blanking the screen is easy in PowerPoint – you simply press the B key.
Let me conclude by pointing to a way that many people quickly kill any concluding impact they may have created, with a simple slip of the keyboard. They display a slide showing either: three short key points (quite good): ‘Thank You’ (not so good as this should be spontaneous); or ‘Any Questions’? (not so good either as Q&A are much better positioned earlier so that you can control your climax). Then they click on further, crashing out of the slide show and revealing their desktop – complete with latest emails, overdue software updates and their iTunes library, probably with Abba’s greatest hits on prominent display.
Any impact they may have created is going to be very short-lived and no amount of fumbling is going to make for an effective recovery! How can you avoid crashing out of slideshow mode? Make yourself an ‘end slide’, ideally to display after you have delivered your Call to Action to a blank screen (using the B key). This could simply be a copy of your intro slide; or it could be an abiding image that underlines your Call to Action; or it could list your contact details. Having created the end slide, make a duplicate, so that you have two end slides and even if you press too far no one gets to see your desktop.