Presentation Hack: Your Last Slide(s)

I've written before about introductory presentation slides. When the audience is filtering into the room, I prefer to play a few minimalist slides on a looping show over the typical static slide jammed with titles, organizations, names, events, and logos. (Many of you have circled back to me after having used this trick to share your successes with it! Thanks for trying it!)

But what about ending the presentation? What tricks do I use to bring closure to a projected slide deck? How do I handle a summary or a Question-and-Answer session?

First let me contrast two (2) different chronologies of the tail ends of presentations:

Weaker Ending
  1. Final detail point.
  2. Grand closing (climax?)
  3. "Are there any questions?"
  4. Answer them if they're asked.
  5. Thank the audience.
  6. Awkwardly leave the platform

Stronger Ending
  1. Final detail point.
  2. Brief Summary
  3. "Before I get into the final closing, what questions can I answer?"
  4. Answer them if they're asked.
  5. Thank the audience.
  6. Grand closing (climax?)
  7. Walk off stage like a boss. 

For this stronger closing, imagine the last few great TED Talks you've watched. The endings are passionate, confident, and clear. There is no awkwardness in the final moment on stage. We should be striving for closing comments that resemble those keynotes, regardless of your venue, audience size, or purpose. 

So what slides or slide designs can help us reach this stronger ending?

I've assembled an imaginary presentation to demonstrate.

Let's go back the first introductory slides used in a looping self-playing intro slideshow (the technique is detailed here). It's reasonable to show the beginning of the slide deck, so the last slides make sense:

They include:
  • Title slide: "The Caveman & The Professor: Using Storytelling to Explain Decision-Making Science"
  • Speaker/moderator slide, with basic contact/organization information. 
  • Theme/branding slide: The Illinois Model diagram
  • Social media sharing slide 

Now let's fast forward and look at the last four (4) slides I might use for that imaginary presentation:

I do not structure a Thank You slide or a Questions? slide. If you are married to projecting one (1) or both of those, I suggest you put some sort of imagery or summary slide up after it/them...and not ending your presentation with QUESTIONS? projected in the background. I argue it weakens a closing and misses an opportunity to project impactful "eye candy." 

In this imaginary presentation, my pre-Q&A summary and final grand closing will touch upon two (2) things: The 3-axis model and the concept of Caveman versus Professor. As such, I've tied them together in both the intro and the ending. This is the imagery I want to stick with the audience. 

I've also anticipated that audience questions will revolve around certain topics that will be best suited to have either the 3-axis model or the character personas hanging in the background. Through a slide remote/advancer, I can covertly and seamlessly toggle between those two slides as appropriate.

A final closing is given with the LEGO characters on screen. Fin! Then depending on the climate or setting, I may project my contact information.

And with that, the challenge is on you to make small technical, design, and emotional adjustments to send off your audience with energy, passion, and a lasting impression. 


Aside from writing about a variety of topics, I publish a column of blog posts under the label Presentation Hack. Check them out for ideas, tips, and tricks to better public speaking experiences!


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


Popular posts from this blog

Presentation Hack: "For those of you who don't know me..."

The Generalist versus The Specialist