How to Conclude Innovative Presentations Effectively: The Law of Recency

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

The closing effect — the Law of Recency —carries more weight for your innovative presentation’s message than the primacy (beginning) effect, because the last thing a person sees, hears, tastes, touches, feels, or experiences is actually the first thing they remember.

The acronym LIFO, used by computer scientists, stands for Last In, First Out and applies to list processing and data structures. You can use it to remember how to structure your presentations.

Think about it: You had a great dinner, but you still want that delicious dessert — that last, lingering wonderful taste before you leave the restaurant. Or, you’re saying goodbye to a potential client, who firmly shakes your hand, gives you a warm, ear-to-ear smile and says, “This was a terrific meeting. I see us working with your company!”

These endings send you out on a high note, long felt and well remembered, don’t they? Or, in a converse situation, your boss looks at you sternly and in a cold, steely voice simply says, “Okay,” as he walks away after you explained something. That last message also digs in and sticks with you, unfortunately.

For your talk to be a success, you must use the Law of Recency to construct a strong conclusion, which has the following features:

  • Encapsulates and brings everything together in a simple, concise, and memorable manner

  • Highlights your most important points and messages in a convincing and compelling way

  • Leaves a group on a high note and motivates them to act upon your recommendation, plan, solution, or idea (the call to action)

  • Cements your rapport and credibility with the audience

  • When necessary, inoculates your group against any subsequent discussions or presentations, such as competitive sales presentations, designed to counter what you advocate