Creating a Dynamite Opening and Closing
Psychology calls it the “primacy-recency” effect. People tend to remember what they hear first and what they hear last more effectively than all of the stuff that comes between. This being the case, you need to create a dynamite opening and closing to your presentation. If your event consists of more than one presentation, it will also pay to take time to formulate a great opening and closing to the event.
The only way to do this is through trial and error. The best way to conduct this experimentation is to speak at venues where you can test your openings and closings to see what works. Also, you’ll need different opening-closing combinations for different events. A great opening for one program may be inappropriate for another event. The same thing goes for your closings.
Your opening has three primary goals.
First, it needs to get peoples’ attention.
Second, it needs to set up your audience for the information you’ll be delivering. That means it must be relevant. You can’t tell that story about growing up in Alaska as the son of a fisherman if it doesn’t tie into your subject matter.
Finally, your opening should position you as a top expert in the field. Make sure to weave information into your opening to make this clear to your audience.
Do not open a seminar by going through all of the administrative and housekeeping details. You can always go back after a few minutes and tell people where the bathrooms are. Get them off on the right foot with some great, high-quality information.
A great closing will help you increase product sales and consulting business. You should test various approaches to your closing, zeroing in on one that works best for your audience and their needs.
Your closing should have two primary goals.
First, it must reinforce the notion that you are the expert in your field.
Second, it should highlight the key things you want your audience to remember about the material you’ve presented.
Before my official close, I almost always include two exercises I suggest you consider using.
First, I like people to pull out their action idea sheets (an idea discussed earlier). If you’ve caught on to the power of using these sheets, you will have been reviewing them after each break.
At the beginning of the event, I promise attendees that they will leave with at least a certain number of action ideas. Before I close, I always ask the group how many people got at least as many action ideas as I promised. If I’ve done things right, they’ve gotten at least twice that many.
When everyone has their hands raised I ask a few select people from the audience exactly how many they’ve gotten. The number is usually a minimum of twice what I promised.
The second exercise I conduct just before closing is to go around the room and ask people to name the first 3 things they will do when they get back to their home or office. If the group is small enough, I let everyone chime in. If not, I ask a few people around the room.
With that reinforcement in mind, I go to my powerful close that summarizes the key points I’ve shared and reconfirms my role as the subject-matter expert.