How to improve your presentation skills -
Part 3: Make your open and close memorable
A few years ago, at a major local event, a prominent pubic figure stood up before the audience, gave his name, title, and the nature of the speech he was about to give. Throughout this entire introduction, he was reading, leaving the audience to wonder "Doesn't he know who he is?"
When giving a speech, it is almost guaranteed you will have the audience’s attention for the first few minutes. That is why it is imperative that you grab them from the beginning. Your introduction should command attention and establish a relationship with the audience.
Use an analogy, personal story, humor (only if you feel comfortable and are really funny), a quote, statistic, or a hypothetical question. Make sure the introduction is relevant to that particular audience and your topic. Then, if need be, give your name, title, and the nature of your presentation.
Make sure the open is memorized. Use this time to establish eye contact, smile, and build a rapport with the audience. Even if you need to use notes during the rest of your speech, a good foundation of credibility has been laid.
Memorize the close as well. This is the last chance you have to make an impression on your audience and drive home the message. Let the audience know in advance that you are coming to the end. It is okay to say “in conclusion” or “to summarize.” When people hear that, they start listening intently again.
The close must be brief. Do not rehash all the supporting points of your presentation, just the primary message. The close should provide closure. Most importantly, make it the “TAH DAH” which gives people a reason to remember you and rise to their feet in applause.