The last words you say are the most likely ones to be remembered, so make the effort to make them distinctive. Here is a list of things to avoid:
- Don’t just stop dead at the end of a sentence that is clearly not specifically designed to be the last sentence. It will leave the audience feeling that they are hanging over the edge of a cliff.
- Don’t apologize for something that you have just realised you left out of the main body of the presentation. An apology is perhaps the weakest of all finishes.
- Don’t finish by asking a question. This would mean a massive loss of audience control, at a time when your control level should be at maximum.
- Don’t give an encyclopedic summary which effectively repeats the whole presentation.
- Don’t say ‘Thank you’. An expression of gratitude is manifestly inadequate, and it always sounds submissive. ‘Thank you’ is a phrase used by someone who is too lazy to think of something else.
Even if you only have 10 minutes to prepare what you are going to say, use at least one of those minutes to think of the exact phrasing of your last sentence. This is the best way of moving your last words away from irrelevance towards immortality.