7 – The Conclusion (outro)

You’ve dazzled the audience with your brilliantly constructed powerpoint presentation, shuffled your papers on the lectern, banged them on the end to align them, given a half hearted smile and said,

Well, that’s it. Any questions?

I’ve seen plently of people do similar. What a lame ending!

Your conclusion should incorporate these elements.

Summary of Major Points

You might like to show the agenda slide again and summarise from that. Emphasise your main points with passion and conviction.

What you’ve seen this morning is how the government neglects the sciences through inadequate funding, the result of this on our research programs and the action required by all of you to turn this around. It’s not going to be easy, but it will need your feedback to your local representative’s and your company’s feedback in industry forums.

You’ll encounter many blocks on this road to nation building but don’t be dissuaded, it’s vital for our future!

Ask for Questions and Feedback

You’ve been presented with some controversial information and challenged to task yourself to turn things around. What’s your opinion?

This is a crucial time in the presentation and one of those where you must use silence to effect. Someone will start speaking and you can expect a lively session of Q and A.  In a sales presentation, this is where you will get a lot of information on the status of your propsal and a lot of ideas to close the deal because if you ask, they will tell you what they really think. It’s far better to do this than “hope” that things went well.

Call to Action

Never leave a presentation without a call to action. Why did you give the presentation? Probably because you wanted people to do something. Ask them to do it! Get them to make a commitment.

Summarise.

You’ve been presented with a lot of information.

You’ve asked a lot of questions today, that I’ve been able to answer for you.

You’ve been most generous with your time.

What are our next steps?

More silence. Let them tell you. If they’re ready to commit, they will, if they’re not, they won’t. Trying to close someone who is not ready will only cause future problems.

Thanks

Thank the audience and invite them to chat with you after the meeting.

6 – Crafting the Body of the Presentation

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This is the heart of the matter. Presenting convincing arguments to the audience so that they will take the action you want them to.

Crafting the Main Body

There are several ways of assembling the information for the main body. I like to use a combination of the “journalistic six” together with  mind mapping.

The Journalistic Six

Journalism students are trained to answer these questions somewhere in their news article – it is also a good  process for establishing whether there are any other facts that need to be stated and provides a number of angles from which to view the story. These are a few examples of the thinking process.

1. Who?

  • Who dunnit
  • Who is involved at all levels – decision makers, users, technical people
  • Who will benefit
  • Who will not

Don’t say things like” a team investigated the process” – who were the people in the team?

2. What?

  • What happened
  • What should have happened
  • What process, equipment, procedures were used?

3. When?

  • When did it happen
  • When should it be implemented
  • When will we know the result

4. Where?

  • Location of event
  • Future locations to be considered

5. Why?

  • Why did the event occur
  • Why were the people there
  • Why can also be useful in drilling down into root causes as in:

The building collapsed in the windstorm.
Why?
Because the foundations were weakened
Why?
Because of the ingress of water.
Why?
Because the flashing was inadequate.
Why?
Because the builders didn’t fit it correctly.
Why?
Because they were not trade qualified.

So, the building collapsed because the builders were not trade qualified.

6. How?

  • How was it done
  • How could it have been avioded
  • How could processes be improved
  • How did the events unfold

Addition to the Journalistic Six

As well as the above, once you’ve established a fact, ask youself “so what?” as many times as you need to establish the importance of the fact, or whether it is indeed relevant. Just because it’s a fact doesn’t mean it’s important.

Mindmapping

These is a simple technique. You can see from this series of posts that I have used a mind map to outline what is needed in a presentation. A mind map is a central topic with radiating sub-topics down to an appropriate level. It assists in non-linear thinking, which is the way the brain seems to operate and adds to your creative output. You can find out more here and I like to use the free mind mapping software XMIND

Structures

When you present your main points here are some ways to structure them:

  • Importance (least important to most)
  • Chronology
  • Cost/size
  • Location
  • Type
  • Thirds – Advantages,  Disadvantages Summary

In creating the body of points you wish to make you follow a simple pattern of using a compelling introduction, make the points, segue between them and finally segue to the conclusion of your presentation.

Segue to Outro

A simple statement should be OK.

You’ve now seen how this impacts on the proposal.

Compelling evidence, isn’t it?

Difficult questions

Nobody can be expected to know everything. From time to time you’ll be thrown questions you can’t answer.The best answer I’ve heard for a curly question was:

As yet I haven’t accumulated a sufficient database on which to make an assessment.

what he really meant was’ “I don’t know”.

Some techniques for handling these are:

  • Don’t allow hypothetical questions. You could say something like “please ask questions during my presentation, and for the sake of the group, could you please keep them to real-life situations”.  This will keep the discussion relevant.
  • Repeat the question to give yourself time to think of a response. “That’s an interesting question, does the widget change thermodynamic properties under extreme load?”
  • Throw it back to the group. “Tom’s raised an interesting point. Does anyone have  experience in this?” Or you can use a variation – call for an expert. “Mary, you’ve been in the technical department a long time, what do you think?”
  • If you genuinely don’t know the answer, don’t bluff, just admit it. “That’s an interesting question, and I really need to check the answer. I’ll get back to you after the break”. Then write the question down and make sure you get back to the person asking the question at the time you said you would.

6 – The Segue

bridge

Definition

From Ask Oxford, an online dictionary

segue

/segway/

• verb (segues, segued, seguing) (in music and film) move without interruption from one song, melody, or scene to another.

• noun an instance of this.

— ORIGIN Italian, ‘follows’.


The purpose of the segue in powerpoint presentations is to transition from one part to another. You can choose whether you want to do it seemingly seamlessly, or you can make a great song and dance about it. The point is you must transition.

In a business presentation, you don’t want to confuse your audience, so maybe the transition should be a bit more obvious,  like a bumper slide with the highlighted agenda point, as I mentioned in article five on the agenda. I have been confused a few times watching students give presentations because I just didn’t know where they were up to and it wasn’t obvious from what they were saying. Maybe their segues were too good, but I suspect not.

Simple Segues

Once you  are about to leave a section you need to make a segue. Here’s how I might segue from the intro to the first major point. The topic is environmental effects of animal populations, and I’m going to talk about wild animals, farm animals and humans.

We’ve agreed on the agenda, and that this is a really important topic. Let’s look at the wild animal population first.

It doesn’t really sound like much, but it’s important for centering the audience.

Seguing from wild to farm is relatively easy because they are different parts of the non-human population. Farm animals to humans?

You’ve seen the effects on the environment thus far by those we like to think are inferior to us. But what about we humans?

Complex Segues

Other writers on this topic advocate ringing bells, blowing party whistles, undertaking group activities, telling jokes. Just be aware of your audience and act accordingly. The KISS principle rules on most occasions.

One liners, anecdotes and questions can be used to  segue simply from part to another.

Learning Through Humour

The first few minutes of this YouTube clip  from “The Chaser’s War on Everything” will tell you all you need to know about the segue: