Tips for speakers #1: don’t thank the audience for their attention

One problem anyone faces in putting any sort of talk together is how to finish.  And a depressingly large number of speakers do so with a slide like this

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.27.05

This way of ending a talk came originally, I think, from Japan. And unless you are Japanese you should never use it. A Japanese speaker has centuries of proud samurai tradition behind them, and when they say ” thank you for your attention” what they mean is

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.22.15

If you are not Japanese this does not work. Instead the message conveyed is

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.24.52

Which is not a good way to finish.

And this throws away a golden opportunity.  The end of the talk is the point at which you really have the attention of the audience. This may not be for the best of reasons – perhaps they want to hear the next speaker, or to go off for much-needed coffee, but when you put your conclusions slide up your listeners’ brains move up a gear. They look up from the email on their laptops and wonder what’s next. So your final message is the one with the best chance of being remembered.

Give them the pitch that you hope they’ll take away with them.

“So we have the best results yet on ….”

“So we have the prospect of getting the best results on … in time for next year’s conference”

“There are going to be many applications of this technique”

“We understand the whole process of … a lot better”

Whatever’s appropriate.  Be positive and upbeat and, even if they’ve been asleep for the past 20 minutes,  they will go away with a good feeling about your work, your talk, and your ability as a speaker.

 

(See what I just did??)