After All That Work, Be Sure to Finish Strong

If you're organizing a program that includes a list of speakers--or even just one--don't underestimate the importance of a strong finish.

If you're organizing a program that includes a list of speakers--or even just one--don't underestimate the importance of a strong finish.

A few weeks ago a friend invited me to a lunchtime presentation his company was sponsoring to update existing customers and woo new ones. The company obviously had put great effort into a top-notch guest list, menu and lineup of speakers.

Which is why I was so surprised by the way they  brought the program to a close, or more accurately, didn’t.

When the last presenter finished, the person who began the program took to the podium once again to say “OK, folks, it looks like that’s all….” Then feebly added, “If any of you have questions, my colleagues and I will be walking around…” And then sensing the lameness of THAT, added again “Also there are cards on your tables if you want more information or ….”

I’m not really sure what was said after that, due to the clatter from half the audience sliding back chairs and starting conversations, while the other half—like me—still sat there wondering, “Is that it?”

After an hour-long pitch perfect performance at the worst possible time the program hit a flat note.

I wonder how many guests’ opinions of the program—and worse, the company—plummeted in those final few moments.

Think how much more effective the entire program would have been if only that last speaker had taken a moment to prepare a closing statement that left the audience thinking “These guys are ON it.”

The next time you’re given the honors of tying up a roster of speakers, make sure you devote due time to crafting a simple close that at the very least accomplishes these three things:

  1. Leaves the audience feeling their investment of time or money was worthwhile, either by succinctly summarizing the program’s highlights or putting them into a broader context.
  2. Makes it clear the event is over. The last thing you want is people wondering “Is that all?”
  3. Gets applause. To feel like it’s a hit, your event needs this final burst of emotion and energy. If you can’t think of any other way to accomplish this, at the very least offer the tried and true “Please help me once again thank our panel” to get the crowd clapping and ultimately out the door on the positive note your event deserves.

Give it a try and let us know if it works for you or what else has worked better. For more great ideas and tips for rock solid communication, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @bluestoneexec.