Create a memorable last impression with these tips

Create a memorable last impression with these tips

Chris Voss, in his compelling book “Never Split the Difference,” drives home a potent truth: the last impression is the lasting impression. But bidding farewell to your audience isn’t merely about saying “thank you” and exiting stage left. It’s like a careful dance that needs thoughtfulness and skill.

A few weeks ago I talked about how the first 3-5 minutes are crucial in captivating your audience and setting the tone for the presentation. Today, I want to talk about the ending.

In “Alice in Wonderland,” the Cheshire Cat gives Alice some insightful advice when she asked for directions:

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

This wisdom holds not just for fairy tales but also for presentations and speeches. Like Alice in Wonderland, speakers need a clear goal for their audience. If you don’t have a clear goal about what you want your listeners to think, feel, or do by the end of your presentation, it really doesn’t matter what you say in your presentation. You will have just wasted 45 minutes of your time and theirs.

Let’s not be “that guy”. Instead, I want you to ask yourself this question as you are writing your presentation: What message do I want to leave the audience with?

  • Is it a message of hope?
  • Is it a message of pandering and thought?
  • Is it a message of creativity?
  • Is it a message of fun and joy?
  • Is it a message of motivation and empowerment?

Now, I’m not saying that every speech should end the same way. In fact, the opposite. As a great speaker, you should have different types of speeches and each speech should end in a way that fits your message.

I recently had the pleasure of watching “Fiddler on the Roof” live on stage, and its ending deeply moved me. It was a departure from the upbeat tone of contemporary plays like “Hello Dolly” or “The Music Man,” yet it left a lasting impression. The story left me feeling concerned and apprehensive for the family facing separation. Had this movie ended neatly with a ribbon tied around the happy family, I probably would not still be thinking about it.

There are many reasons why a presentation can end poorly but I want to highlight the most important one- timing. Timing poses one of the greatest challenges for any presenter, whether it’s in a board meeting, Sunday school class, or at a large conference.

There are lots of reasons why a speech might encounter timing issues:

1. Lack of Preparation: Insufficient preparation can lead to underestimating or overestimating the time needed for each section of the presentation, causing it to run longer or shorter than planned.

2. Overloading Content: Trying to cover too much material within the allotted time can result in rushing through important points or skipping over crucial information, throwing off the timing of the presentation.

3. Unexpected Interruptions: Unexpected technical issues, audience questions, or disruptions can disrupt the flow of the presentation, leading to delays or rushed endings.

4. Poor Time Management: Ineffective time management during the presentation itself, such as spending too much time on certain slides or topics, can throw off the timing and derail the overall structure of the speech.

5. Lack of Rehearsal: Insufficient rehearsal or practice can lead to uncertainty about timing, pacing, and transitions, making it difficult to gauge how long the presentation will actually take.

The key to overcome timing issues in a speech or presentation is thorough preparation.

Invest ample time in structuring your content, breaking it down into manageable segments, and allocating time for each part accordingly. Prioritize key messages and streamline your content to avoid overloading the presentation. Rehearse multiple times to familiarize yourself with the material and timing, using a timer to ensure each section fits within the allotted time frame. Plan for potential disruptions or interruptions and have strategies in place to address them effectively. You should always know which parts you can trim down and where you can elaborate to adjust the timing accordingly. During the delivery, stay mindful of time and adjust your pace as needed, using visual cues to monitor time and ensure you stay within the allotted timeframe.

As we wrap up this series, I am thrilled to announce something that I’ve been working on for months: the inaugural Stand and Deliver Bootcamp. This three-day intensive is tailor-made for anyone who takes center stage—be it a CEO, consultant, or budding speaker—eager to elevate their craft and captivate audiences like never before.

Stay tuned for more details, but mark your calendars now for May 30th to June 1st. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this transformative experience. And the best part? It’s more affordable than you think.

Proactive, Productive and Profitable,


PS: Head on over to my Facebook group called “Command the Room”. It’s a group dedicated to helping like minded speakers improve their craft.

PPS: I save audiences from boring speeches by helping speakers make a lasting impact. 🤝