Let’s talk about the infamous call-to-action. Because it’s frustrating when something good ends badly. Titanic, anyone? There was definitely room for two on that board, James Cameron!
In all seriousness, though, seeing a sales presentation end badly when it’s otherwise been stimulating and engaging is like watching a brilliant film go sour at the end. The presenter has shot themself in the foot by ending with a whimper when they could have gone out with a bang.
How you close your sales presentation is dependent on the purpose of the presentation. The closing visual is what your audience will remember, so it must relate to the key objective you designed the communication to achieve, otherwise, the audience will take away the wrong message.
Communicate a Clear Call-to-Action
If you want the audience to do something, the final slide should be clear what that is, when, and how to do it – a clear call-to-action. Make it easy for your audience to do what you are asking them to do.
If you are opening a dialogue or discussion directly after the presentation, give them a starting question or thought to get the conversation started to get the ball rolling.
And whatever the goal of your communication, match the final visual to it.
Make Your Call-to-Action Visual
When designing your presentation, I generally follow the rule I was taught in my first course on presentation skills:
“Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you’ve told them.”
First, set the scene so the audience knows the purpose and has an overview. Then give the details. And finally, finish with a summary that highlights the key points, including what you want them to do next (your call-to-action), if appropriate, and any other essential information.
This is known as the rule of three. It works by repetition of the same or a similar linked theme to add emphasis and has been used as a compelling end to a speech for thousands of years.
History (literally) Repeats Itself
Consider the following examples from three great orators:
Martin Luther King: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, vici.”
Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
The rule of three is almost unconscious to human communication; we use it all the time without really thinking. By using that speech pattern at the end of your presentation, you can really help embed your call-to-action in your audience’s mind.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t verbally thank your audience for their time, for listening, for traveling to a venue, or other appropriate gesture, but leaving that in their mind as their memory of the presentation is really missing the power of a final impactful message and visual.
To conclude, there should be no doubt in the audience’s mind about the purpose of the presentation when they look at the final image on your screen.
Close strong, with a clear call-to-action, and you will have an effective visual communication tool.