Jon Torrens selfie

“So… I think, that’s it. Yeah. So, er, any questions?”

PLEASE don’t finish any talk like this. It’s disappointing and inconclusive. It may feel like the right thing to do because everybody else does it*, but it fails because:

  • It’s often followed by an awkward silence; you’re suddenly demanding interaction from an audience who may not want to participate in this way.
  • It’s not a course of action; for an audience who may be keen to do something to get involved, it doesn’t really give them something to do.

* I like to smash these common mistakes; it’s my thing.

Instead:

  • Finish with a clear, inspiring reminder of the grand theme of your talk, which you mentioned at the start. This simple callback gives a feeling of conclusion, a neat ending where they recall the beginning when they were hooked into being part of your cause.
  • Smile, give some energy, invite them to come and talk to you afterwards, but give your audience permission to finish participating right there and then and move on. No questions may mean that they understood the whole talk perfectly and loved it. A ton of questions may mean that it was a confusing mess.

Questions at the end of a talk are a fantastic way to engage your audience and give them information relevant to a specific individual, but as a grand finale, just saying “Questions?” is a bit of a limp ending.

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