Have You “Closed the Deal” with Your Audience?
“It doesn’t matter how elegant the argument or inspiring the prose, a presentation won’t move anyone if the presenter isn’t visibly feeling what they are saying.”– John Neffinger
Have you convinced your audience to adopt what you say in your presentations? If not, maybe you have not “closed the deal” with your audience.
Below are three ways for you to “close the deal” with your audience:
Closure Ties Things Together for Your Audience
Have you ever bought a second-hand mystery book, read it through, and found the last five pages were missing? How did that make you feel? Cheated? Unsatisfied? Angry?
Your audience feels the same way if you don’t have closure to your presentation.
You know your presentation opening must grab your audience. Next, you know you must give them a roadmap of your presentation. Finally, you know your presentation’s body must have three main points, all supported by subpoints and connected by transitions between main points.
But if you don’t have a closing that ties your thoughts together, your audience will feel cheated, unsatisfied, and, perhaps, angry.
People remember beginnings and endings. Your audience will remember the beginning of your presentation and your closing. If your closing does not tie together your main points and makes it “crystal clear” how they are relevant to your audience, you have missed a golden opportunity to make a real change for the better in their minds.
So, closure ties things together for your audience. Another prerequisite to your presentations is to satisfy your audience.
Earl Nightingale once said, “The only job of a speaker is to be entertaining.” But, of course, part of that entertainment satisfies your audience.
Closure Gives Your Audience Satisfaction
Have you ever watched a movie where “loose ends” are not resolved? It is unsettling. The same thing can happen in your presentation if you are not careful.
The first step is to review your presentation. The best way to do this is to record yourself on video. Then, separate yourself from your presentation and evaluate it honestly.
Put yourself in the position of one of your audience members. As you are viewing your presentation video, write questions about the presentation. Your questions may look like the following:
“The speaker spoke of the drug trade across our borders. How is that relevant to the speaker’s main point.”
“That was a heartwarming story to start the presentation, but how does it the speaker’s presentation message?”
“Boy, was that joke funny, but what was the point?”
Your job is to minimize, if not eliminate, questions in your audience members’ minds.
When military generals plan a battle, foremost in their minds is the efficient use of all forces available. If a specific part of the force contributes minimally or not at all, that force part will not be employed in the battle. In other words, is the particular force part relevant to the battle?
Although I don’t want you to view your presentation as a battle, there are lessons you can learn from military battle preparation.
You have “presentation forces” available to you also. Your gestures, eye contact, and stories, to name a few, are your “presentation forces.” Only you can decide which is most appropriate for your presentation. A “tight” connection between the particular “presentation force” and your message is what you should strive for.
Tying all you say to your presentation message will greatly satisfy your audience. Don’t deprive your audience of this satisfaction.
So, closure ties things together for your audience and gives them great satisfaction.
Additionally, always ask what you want your audience to do with the information you have presented. Then, give them a Call to Action.
Closure Necessitates Giving Your Audience a Call to Action
Three things are crucial when you deliver a presentation – tell your audience upfront the purpose of your presentation, ensure the body of your presentation supports that purpose, and give your audience three Calls to Action at the end of your presentation.
So, why is it important to tell your audience the purpose of your presentation upfront?
Although the purpose of your presentation is not a roadmap, it does focus your audience’s attention. It is a tall order asking the audience to temporarily forget the myriad of thoughts in their mind and focus on your presentation. However, that is your job as a speaker.
If you are going to join the ranks of excellent and outstanding speakers, your audience’s full attention to your message is paramount. Stating your presentation’s purpose up front does this. Repeating your presentation purpose during your presentation is even better.
It must be “crystal clear” to your audience the body of your presentation fully supports your presentation’s purpose. How can you do this?
I already mentioned one way – repeat your presentation’s purpose often during the body of your presentation. People remember what is repeated.
At a minimum, during the body of your presentation, after each main point, you should point out its relevance to your presentation purpose. This ensures your presentation purpose and message will “sink in” to your audience members’ minds.
All this is necessary but not sufficient. For example, have you ever left a presentation where the presentation purpose was evident in your mind? However, you still had questions about how to apply this information to your personal and professional lives.
To put the “cherry on top,” you must tell your audience what they should do with the information you deliver. This is called the Call to Action. Without providing a Call to Action at the end of your presentation, the presentation is, at best, entertainment and, at worst, a waste of your audience’s time. Audiences are thirsting for your presentation to be relevant to their lives. So tell them how it is relevant.
As a reader of these articles, you know at the end, there will always be three Calls to Action – activities your audience’s members can immediately implement in their lives. The keyword here is activities. A Call to Action is not something the audience just thinks about. A Call to Action is activity audience members need to implement to get the full benefit of your presentation.
Give your audience three Calls to Action. Two or one Call to Action does not seem to be enough. Four or more Calls to Action make it increasingly challenging for your audience to remember. The number three worked for Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It will work for you also.
“Closing the Deal” with your audience means tying things together for them, giving them great satisfaction, and giving them three Calls to Action.
Doing this gives your audience a “nicely wrapped” presentation package they can immediately use to better their personal and professional lives.
Have you “closed the deal” with your audience?
Call to Action
Ensure your presentation infuses your presentation’s purpose in all parts of your presentation
Give your audience the satisfaction of a presentation that is focused on your message
Give your audience three Calls to Action – activities related to your presentation your audience can immediately act on to better their personal and professional lives.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”– Dale Carnegie
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals by improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”