Recently, my colleague David Yockelson shared his thoughts on “the best sales deck ever.” That post, as well as several reviews that I have done recently of client, and Gartner internal, presentations were the driver for this post.
I’m a big believer in a pretty standard structure to presentations. Gartner largely leverages the models put forth by Dick Butterfield. I won’t echo it word for word, but my summary version of it is this:
- Open Strong – Within the first 2 or 3 slides, make sure the audience knows the big idea of the presentation, treating it like “if you only remember one thing from this session, it is this”
- Develop a story that explores that idea in parts
- Close Strong – Close as strong as you open. Return to that strong opening and repeat it, albeit with some color or refinement now that you have told your story.
There are many other elements within this approach, such as making sure the story focuses on the audience, not you, or providing tangible examples and proof points. But the essentials are above.
And, while there is almost always room for improvement in every presentation, there is one aspect of the formula that is missed over and over and over again. The strong close.
Most of the presentations I see end with what is effectively a “thank goodness this is over!” tone. A list of boring recommendations. A summary of minutiae from the deck. The dreaded “Questions?” slide.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of those elements may be needed. But you need to close strong, leaving a positive memory of the presentation. Building energy for a postive follow-on discussion. Close with the same level of fervor and promise as you opened. Reinforce, strongly, your big idea.
Take a look at your presentations–do you end with a whimper? or a bang?
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