Audience participation is a great way to connect with your audience. Most people do that with a Question and Answer (Q&A) session in their conclusion. This can be a bad move. Here’s why. You can’t control a Q&A session. So you run the risk of your thoughtful closing remarks being hi-jacked by a disruptive or negative question at the end.
You run the risk of losing control of your message. The audience’s last impression of your presentation could be shaped by a negative Q and A exchange. You don’t want that.
Here’s what you can do to have that important interaction with the audience and still be in total control of your message.
- Just before your conclusion, say something like “Before I wrap up, are there any questions?” Or “Before I share my final thoughts, are there any questions?” You get the idea. You’re letting them know you’re going to continue speaking after the Q&A. So they will wait. Audiences love knowing where they’re going next.
- Answer the questions for a prescribed amount of time or till there are no more.
- Then – after the Q and A – deliver your conclusion. Your conclusion can be a call to action, a short summary, a challenge, or my favourite – an inspiring story.
This way, you control your message right to the end. You control the way the audience feels when they leave. And you control the last thought they take away with them.
This strategy definitely works. Here’s what one one my client reported after they used it:
“My favourite (part of the speech) was stopping for the questions and then wrapping. That worked so well. Your idea was brilliant.”
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.