Bookend your presentation to give the audience a satisfying experience . . . and give yourself a powerful personal competitive advantage.
You can bookend your segment of a group presentation, too.
What are presentation bookends, and why is this so important to audience response?
Bookending brings your audience full circle.
This provides a sense of closure and completion for the audience.
Presentation Bookends, the How
Start your presentation with an anecdote, cue, or visual image that hooks your listeners into the narrative. This is your “grabber.”
It can’t be a gimmick, or the audience will feel cheated.
Your grabber must startle and delight your audience. An interesting fact, a controversial statement.
A powerful phrase.
You then follow with your situation statement, which flows naturally from your grabber.
Your clear situation statement of only one or two sentences tells the audience exactly what they will hear.
Start to finish.
One of the best grabbers/situation statements I’ve ever heard was this pithy formulation:
“There’s a deal on the table. Don’t take it. Here’s why.”
That grabber is direct and is almost enough for a situation statement as well. It pulses with power. If you’re the one associated with the “deal on the table,” how could you not want to hear what comes next?
In fact, it encompasses the entire presentation in three especially powerful sentences.
That’s your first bookend.
Then you offer your major points of your presentation, usually three major points.
Because of the Rule of Three that I have spoken of in this space so many times. We seem to be hard-wired to receive information most efficiently in threes.
Whether it’s a slogan or a fairy tale, when information is grouped in threes, we respond well to it and we remember it better.
“Stop. Look. Listen.”
“The Three Little Pigs.”
“Goldilocks and the Nine Bears.”
Wait . . . the last sentence jars, doesn’t it? It doesn’t feel right.
Try to craft your presentation to constitute three parts.
This three-part presentation structure serves you well as a framework for most any presentation.
As you wind to a conclusion, you then construct your second and final bookend.
Now . . . Bookend Your Presentation!
You say these words: “In conclusion, we can see that . . .”
Then, repeat your original situation statement.
With this simple technique, you hearken back to the original introductory anecdote, cue, or visual image that launched your presentation.
Finally, say: “We believe that our presentation substantiates this.”
You come full-circle, so to speak. With this, the audience gains a sense of completeness. Satisfaction.
This recapitulation of your theme knits together your segment into a whole. Your audience appreciates the closure.
Rather than a linear march, where nothing said in your presentation seems to relate to anything that came before, you offer satisfying closure with your presentation bookends.
You bring your audience home.
You bring you audience back to the familiar starting point. This drives home the major point of your talk in two especially powerful ways:
1) the outright repetition of your theme, cementing it in the minds of your listeners, and . . .
2) the story convention of providing a satisfying ending, tying up loose ends. Giving psychological closure with your presentation bookends.
It’s an elegant technique that can pay big dividends in terms of audience response. And it can imbue you with personal competitive advantage.