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How to Write a Conclusion for a Presentation

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In the old cartoons, you knew that the show was over because the words "The End" came up on the screen. To utter such phrases as "The end," "I'm done," or "That's it" is not really a conclusion to a formal presentation. These phrases say nothing and stop your presentation rather than finish it. A good conclusion brings closure to a presentation and also seeks a lasting impact. Because the conclusion is the last part of the talk, it is often the part the audience remembers best. So you want to leave them with a bang. Here are six techniques that can help you bring positive closure to a presentation:

  • Recap: A recap is a summary of the main points covered in your talk. You want it brief, generally covering no more than three or four points. If you cover more than that, you're probably going to get too detailed, lose your audience, and sound like you're repeating yourself.

  • Repeat core message: This technique ends your presentation by briefly emphasizing the theme that you have carried throughout the talk. It works really well when your introduction raised this theme and you want to wrap it up in the end.

  • Call to action: With this closing technique, you finish by requesting that the audience take some kind of action. That action can be implementing an idea that they have gained from your talk or doing something to support a cause.

  • Quote: This technique works best when you can come up with a witty or interesting line that wraps up your presentation nicely. As you do in an introduction, you want to identify the source of the quote and tie it to your main point.

  • Rhetorical question: In this technique, you leave the audience with a thought-provoking question. Most often, you don't answer it for them like you would in an introduction; instead, you leave them to ponder the question for themselves. As with an introduction, make sure that the question is relevant to what you've said so that people walk away from the presentation thinking, especially about possibilities or opportunities.

  • Story: A story often makes for a nice close to a presentation. To make a story work in a conclusion, you want it to be relatively brief and to illustrate a point that ties to what the whole presentation was about.

    [Credit: Photo © iStockphoto.com/kristian sekulic]
    Credit: Photo © iStockphoto.com/kristian sekulic

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