Welcome to part two of a four-part series on the best formula for a presentation closing that resonates.
If you plan to include Q & A, indicate how much time has been allotted.
To keep the session flowing, I recommend that you say, “What are your short, specific questions?” Be sure to let your audience know when you will take two final questions. With virtual presentations, after each point of wisdom and before you transition to the next chunk of content, why not add a slide with a question mark on it. This reminds you of your flow, and it gives the audience time to engage. Up front, ask the introducer or moderator to tell the audience you will be doing this. If you are your own moderator, let the audience know to add their questions when they have them. My advice: If you have an audience of more than a handful, have a moderator. Not all questions need to be answered if they are off-topic. If three attendees ask the same question, they can be combined. It is a good idea to have a couple of on-point questions prepared in case none are asked.
If you speak on a complex subject, it is best to answer questions throughout your presentation.
With longer sessions, half-day, full-day, or multiple-day training, have interaction throughout your session. It is important to answer questions, but it is also important to change the experience to keep everyone engaged.
If you do not have time for Q & A, you may want to include, “As we do not have time for Q & A, let me answer my three most frequently asked questions. They are . . .”
One of my ongoing clients hires me to work with engineers who speak at their company’s customer conferences. Their rule is to allow 10 minutes for Q & A. Many of their audience members are not comfortable asking questions. As a result, I have them prepare questions they can pose to their co-presenter while they wait for their audience’s questions.
“No doubt you want to know . . .”; “At this point, we are usually asked . . .”;
“In case you are wondering where you can get a hands-on demo . . .”
”Henry Kissinger once said at a press conference, “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?”
He meant he was going to hold on to his agenda no matter where the press tried to take him.
Suddenly closing your presentation without thoughtful consideration can undermine your message. Wrapping up your talk with a Q&A session may seem like a natural choice, yet this can be a mistake. If you end with a Q&A, you risk a lone, ill-humored audience member’s stating a negative opinion rather than asking a relevant question. That could dilute the message you intended to leave with your audience. Even if you receive excellent questions during a Q&A, remember that you will ideally conclude your presentation by delivering a closing as powerful as your opening.
Part four of four coming soon.
“Thanks to Patricia Fripp’s efforts my talk was a wild success. I followed speakers from Microsoft and blew them off the stage! Well, that’s what it felt like to me. I would not have thought it possible, and it would not have been without Fripp’s help.” Oliver Martin, CEO, Thru Transport Systems
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