Never use “and finally” unless you are finishing

Have you ever been listening to a long presentation and heard the magic phrase “and finally” which you thought meant they were finishing but they spoke for another 10 minutes?  Recently a speaker who was really boring used the phrase “and finally …” and I wanted to yell out “it’s about time”.  But some people use the term “and finally …” to state their last main point before they begin their 10 minute conclusion.  In my mind if you use the phrase “and finally” I expect you to be done in 2 minutes.

The trick that many speakers don’t understand is that there are some phrases that mean one thing to a presenter and mean something different to a listener.  A presenter might use the phrase “and finally” to sum up their argument but it is often perceived by the listener to mean “I am finishing up”.  If you use this phrase then you have about 1-2 minutes to finish or you will lose your audience.

So here are a few phrases that should only be used in the last 2 minutes of a presentation:

  • And finally
  • To finish up
  • I will finish with this
  • To wrap up
  • So next week
  • The worship team may come up

“My last point” is a grey area because I think it is the same as those terms listed above.  If you have four points use the word “four” to describe the fourth point as the phrase “my last point” implies you are in your conclusion.

So why is this important?  Because people remember your conclusion if it is done well and they switch off if it is done poorly.  You want to drive home your message in your conclusion with what the audience should do next; so it isn’t helpful for the audience to switch off.  If a speaker goes on for too long then the listener is trying to predict when the speaker will finish rather than listening to the message.

So finally work on your transitions so you don’t use these ending phrases midway through your presentation.


One thought on “Never use “and finally” unless you are finishing

  1. mc_traveller says:

    Those key comments are also a tool to “wake up” anyone who has fallen asleep or is only half listening. It gives them a chance to pay attention to the final words of your speech, so you need to make them count.

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