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The cow in my client’s presentation caught me off guard.
As part of the preparation phase for my Preparing Powerful Content for Presentations workshop, I ask participants to send me the presentation they will be working on. After delivering this workshop for years, I’m used to seeing slide decks that contain all kinds of surprises.
There are paragraphs of text on one slide, four separate but somehow related charts on the next slide, and a massive table with over 200 seemingly important figures on another slide. None of that shocks me anymore.
The most important slide
One slide I pay particular attention to during my review is the last slide in my client’s deck. You know the one; it’s mostly blank but says something like:
- Q & A
- Next steps (without any steps)
- Thank you for your attention.
This time, it was an image of a cartoon cow. Don’t get me wrong, it was creative and evoked an emotion. Just not the emotion you really want your audience to feel after you have delivered a stunning 20-minute presentation designed to drive change in your organization.
During the workshop, my client revealed that the cow had a historical, funny personal meaning. Okay, I thought, I can see why the image resonated with my client. But wouldn’t it have been a good idea assess how the slide would (or would not) help achieve the presentation objectives?
Here’s what’s happening when you put a cow on your last slide, or leave it pretty much blank:
You are wasting million-dollar real estate.
Why? Because the end of your presentation is the beginning of the audience’s journey.
You want your audience to take action. To DO something when they walk out the door.
The examples above just don’t cut it. Key messages don’t register or resonate with the audience, global processes that should be implemented locally are largely ignored, or cooperation to achieve a common goal never materializes.
Leave with the best impression
Here are my three simple techniques to get a bigger bang out of your last slide:
- Bullet point the key message(s) of your presentation.
- Repeat your call to action.
- Use active verbs in your bullet points: implement, decide, update, etc.
Then leave that slide up as you take questions and agree to next steps. During that entire discussion, your audience will see your key messages. This will drive the messages into their minds, making the messages memorable and increasing the likelihood that action will be taken.
So use your last slide wisely. Your key messages will have much more impact, you’ll influence action, and you’ll inspire your audience to begin a new journey when they walk out of the room.
If you or your team would like to improve the effectiveness of your presentations so you get better results for your team AND your organization, please get in touch. I’m happy to help.
P.S. What was the worst slide you’ve seen in a presentation before? Leave me a note in the comments about it, and be sure to keep it anonymous!
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