Here’s a seriously in-depth, step-by-step look at How to Open and Close Presentations or Speeches. We explore various attention grabbers for presentations (or “attention getters”) and all of the other component parts that make a presentation opening or introduction work well. Additionally, we look at how the conclusion and closing should connect back to the attention grabber for maximum impact.
The Introduction or How to Open a Presentation or Speech:
The introduction should move from general to specific and begin with a quality attention grabber or “attention getter.” People refer to these presentation openings in different ways.
1. Attention Grabber. Here you have to open a presentation and grab an audience’s attention. Your options here are techniques such as how to grab an audience’s attention with Questions, Quotations, Visual illustrations, statistics or facts, and stories.
2. Audience relevance and/or benefit. Explain in just 2-3 sentences how the listening audiences’ interests connect to the topic. What benefits will listeners get by paying attention to the message?
3. Establish your personal credibility as the speaker. What are your experiences and research that make you a good person to speak on this topic? Say it in just 2-3 sentences. Sometimes, you will be introduced before you speak. If that is the case, the person introducing you can do this step for you.
4. Thesis statement. This is also called your main idea or central idea. It is the whole presentation boiled down to one concise statement. It should be worded as a claim/argument/position that you are taking. It should pop out from the rest of the introduction as your unmistakable main idea.
5. Give a very brief preview of points to come. Keep it very concise and pair it down to one word main points or at the maximum key phrases. Pause in between each point.
How to Close a Presentation:
1. Singal the End. Say some phrase like “In conclusion” to clearly tap the brake lights and let your listeners know you are about to wrap it up.
2. Reinforce the thesis or main idea. You can change the wording slightly for style but you have to hit the thesis one last time. You can also briefly recap your the main points from the body of the presentation but only if it helps.
3. Call to Action. Especially in a persuasive presentation, you should explain exactly what action you want your listeners to take. This is going to be different for every presentation but it needs to be super clear. However, AVOID the typical “So, the next time you find yourself . . .” Ugh. It’s the worst. Craft something that is more specific than that.
4. Clincher or Closing. Most people do not work nearly as hard on their Closing as they do the rest of the presentation but it is critical. It will be the last thing people here and remember. Use any of the techniques you used for Attention Grabbers. Use a story, a quotation, a statistic, a rhetorical question, an illustration. End with a bang.
The magic comes when you connect the closing to the attention-grabber opening. It should be an echo or call back of your attention grabber. If you began with a story, consider a little bit more of that story in your closing. If you started with a quotation in your attention getter,, call back that quotation in your closing/clincher. When learning how to open and close a presentation, most speakers don’t invest the extra time needed to make it memorable but it is worth it.
How to Open with a Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujw_21AuU5k&index=2&list=PLiObSxAItudIhNiL-qOHOcDhCY4TyRH9K
How to Open with Humor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6sm47j-Am4&index=3&list=PLiObSxAItudIhNiL-qOHOcDhCY4TyRH9K
How to Open with a Question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA1H1hYYFHs&list=PLiObSxAItudIhNiL-qOHOcDhCY4TyRH9K&index=4
How to Open with a Statistic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij1NuTGQWmQ&list=PLiObSxAItudIhNiL-qOHOcDhCY4TyRH9K&index=5
Alex Lyon’s Book: Case Studies in Courageous Communication: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Studies-Courageous-Organizational-Communication/dp/1433131242/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1483651791&sr=1-1
Get to know Alex (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owjHoxQuKNU
Communication Coach, this channel, helps rising leaders like you increase your impact and lead your teams with more excellence. The channel focuses on communication skills for leaders, presentation skills, group and team skills, and conversation skills. If you’re looking for self-pace communication skills training, this is the channel for you.
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