I remember agreeing to meet someone for coffee years ago. The guy was friendly. The conversation was smooth and easy. But, his last impression left me feeling cold and a bit turned off. In the final few moments during our time together, his demeanor completely changed as he began to lay the ground rules for our next steps. What originally came across as a very collaborative possibility soon felt very controlling and even slightly manipulative.
That was our first and last conversation all because he delivered a terrible last impression.
Although this was not a formal presentation, you can still argue that he was presenting himself. Everything about his “pitch” was good until the very end, and here’s how to avoid this fatal flaw for anything you share with an individual or group moving forward.
Circle Back Around
My favorite movies and books always circle back around. Two of my favorite directors are the Coen Brothers. Their movies are a bit dark, incredibly introspective, and wildly popular. One of their classics always stands out to demonstrate this point and it is their movie, Fargo. The very first scene in that movie you see a car driving on a snowy road and the movie concludes with a very similar scene. As an audience member, you are provided with a sense of closure at that time which lends to its powerful emotional impact.
Build Up to Something
Taking another lesson from Hollywood, there are so many great films that build up to an intense climatic moment. One films that stands out to me is Bryan Singer’s 1995 hit, The Usual Suspects. To avoid revealing any spoilers, you can trust me in the notion that it ends with an amazing twist. Mr. Singer spends 106 minutes building up to something very profound.
Repeat the Important Stuff
In 1999, a neurobiologist named Joe Tsien found that special communication channels in our nerve cells called NMDA receptors create new connections with associative (repetitive) learning. But it becomes a little more interesting with a protein called GAP-43. This protein makes nerve connections form quickly, and happens when the same combinations of nerve signals are repeated over and over. So, when Lincoln (we’ll study him in just a bit) says “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” our GAP-43 proteins are triggered in response to hearing “the people” repeated, and those nerves cells start to make a new connection that we remember later. These connections are a recipe for a potent memory-boosting way to end your presentation.
Have a Call to Action
Shockingly, 85% of sales pitches fail to conclude with an ask for the actual sale? That’s a disappointing statistic. Your audience has just invested 30, 60, or 90 minutes to hear you speak. It is imperative that you tell them what to do next.
If you have invested all the time and energy to build an amazing narrative and deck then make sure you tie it altogether with a powerful ending.