“Well, I guess that’s about all I have.”
“Well, I guess we are out of time.”
How do you close your meetings and presentations? Hopefully not like these endings, which are common enough, but entirely ineffective. Closing your presentation can be challenging, especially if you have run out of time, taken a number of tough questions or failed to win approval for your ideas. But the close is so important for reinforcing your message that you shouldn’t just leave it to chance.
Take time to plan the next ending of your meeting or presentation, so no matter what happens, you can still end with finesse.
- Be careful not to use the words “in closing” or “in conclusion” until you are really ready to end. Once people hear those words they are mentally ready to move on.
- Don’t thank them for their time, but instead for their participation, feedback or comments. Even if the meeting was contentious, you can honestly thank them for being passionate about the subject matter.
- Remind people what they have learned or accomplished by listening to you. Keep it positive and forward-focused, even if there were areas of disagreement.
- If you want more questions, don’t ask, “are there any more questions?” Instead, ask “what questions do you have?” or “what other questions can I answer?”
- A brisk “thank you” will create closure after a question and answer period that just won’t end. So will an offer to answer any remaining questions offline, or after the meeting. Give your contact information if appropriate.
- Try to end after a positive question or on a positive note. Watch how comedians refuse to end after a joke that bombs; they will always try one more, hoping for an upbeat ending.
- Always end with a reminder of your key message or a call to action. Since people tend to remember what they hear first and last, select and reinforce what you want people to remember by repeating or restating it at the end.
Bottom line: Don’t let your presentation or meeting just wind down; instead plan ahead so you can end on a strong note that leaves a positive, lasting impression.