Opening & Closing Presentations Must Work
Don’t tell me, show me. That’s critical advice when it comes to both opening and
closing presentations. An opening is your first chance to form impressions and begin to deliver your message. Closings need to reflect elements of your opening, pulling together the most important “middle” – and making the whole, truly compelling.
Although attorneys are typically auditory learners, most people – including those who serve on juries – have a different style. They are visual learners and the things they see are more important than words alone. It’s not enough to talk them through an event, nor can you just show them a slide with bullet points to explain facts.
Research shows it won’t stick and might even confuse them. Instead, of talking atthem, show them a picture of an object or an event. Explain a concept through colorful graphics. Or give them a computer-generated animation that makes an event real.
It can make all the difference in terms of retention, understanding, and believing.
These things are especially true for the opening and closing, which need to be carefully tied together and should also reflect the contents of the “middle.” However, if you are going to convince them with images and visual cues, you need a plan – architecture. In other words don’t just subject them to uncoordinated and widely varying experiences.
Go for a consistent look and feel, ideally one that relates to the topic at hand and the concepts you are communicating. This should include a whole style of communicating that is coordinated – like the home decorator’s color palette or the communication patterns modeled in all marketing efforts by successful businesses.
Why? If you convey consistency and credibility, you can literally “tune in” the audience and get them to relax and open up to real communication. Presentation of the information itself must be equally well thought out.Then, when each part of your presentation makes a point, it sticks.
Do it Right
Set the tone with the opening. Show them how you are going to communicate and get them ready for more. Choose your colors, your graphic style, and even your pace (though you may want to vary that from time to time to reflect what you are
communicating). Consider different modes of presentation; charts, graphs, slides,
photographs, and videos. Pick the information that will build your foundation.
But, above all, give them a look and a style that is credible and consistent.
This is important not only because of how dependent most visual learners are on “rich” media – photos, moving images, etc. – but also because consistency and an appealing style can substantially improve what is understood and how it is understood.
Closing presentations are perhaps the most challenging of all. If you have done your
homework and developed a great look and feel – and if you have used the best tools to transmit the information – the jury will be primed and ready. Therefore, the closing must fit with everything that has come before in look, feel, and content. Then, it’s up to you to bring them the rest of the way; persuaded of your facts and your logic and willing to act on that information.
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