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PowerPoint Tip: Conclude at the Beginning

In a Writing Tune-Up seminar yesterday, a participant named Carl shared some good advice on creating PowerPoint presentations. We were talking about the wisdom of communicating recommendations and conclusions near the beginning of email–not the end–so that people read them. That is when Carl pointed out that the same principle applies in slide presentations. He said something like this:

I wish people would share their recommendations and conclusions at the beginning of their PowerPoint presentations. But instead they click through dozens of slides, people ask questions, and we never get to their recommendations before the end of the meeting.

Since I do not attend many meetings with PowerPoint presentations, I asked Carl what happens when presenters don’t get to the point before the end of the meeting. He said:

The presenters just say, "Well, I guess we need to schedule another meeting."

Take it from Carl: It is much more productive to share your recommendations and conclusions near the beginning of your presentation than to never reach them.

Conclude at the beginning. Give your meeting attendees the information they came for at the beginning of your presentation, and you won’t risk the frustration and embarrassment of not getting to your point and having to try to reschedule. Also, you can invite people with limited time to come to the start of your meeting and leave when they must. They will still take away the essentials.

Thanks, Carl.


Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.