This is why you should include a “cliffhanger” in your PowerPoint presentation

What do many television series or feature film series like Star Wars have to do with your presentation? Individual episodes often end with a gripping scene that is meant to make the viewer curious about the sequel. How will the story continue? This stylistic element is called a cliffhanger because the viewer is kept in a kind of limbo of curiosity. You can also take advantage of this technique for your presentation. In addition to convincing facts, creating emotions is an effective way to capture viewers’ attention.

So build a cliffhanger into your next company presentation and keep your audience in suspense. When do your audience members listen intently to you during a presentation? Of course, if you present interesting information. If you convey this info in an exciting way, your audience will listen intently throughout because excitement automatically generates attention.

Cliffhanger in the introduction

In this variant Storytelling and cliffhangers interconnected. You can start your presentation with a story that directly relates to your presentation topic. However, they do not tell the story to the end. Just before the story reaches its climax, stop your narration by saying that you will describe how the story ends at the end of the presentation. The curiosity of the audience is aroused and they will now follow your presentation more attentively.

News Cliffhanger

Is there news you want to share with your audience during your presentation? Then you could split this “news” a little bit. You explain some news already at the beginning of your presentation, but you save the most important news for the end. So, you first tell what has happened recently in your company, for example, but that there is still a real surprise to announce. What that is now, you will tell only at the end of the event. Another variant would be, for example: “We have achieved a sensational increase in sales this year. I’ll tell you exactly how high it is at the end of my presentation.”

Problem solution cliffhanger

You start your presentation with a problem description related to your topic. Then explain that today you will present the solution to all the problems mentioned. Promise that by the end of the presentation, every participant will know what the solution is.

Speech pauses as mini-cliffhangers

You know the mini-cliffhanger from countless quiz shows. When Günther Jauch on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” resolves whether the quiz candidate’s answer is correct or whether he has gambled it all away, the quizmaster likes to take artistic pauses to heighten the suspense. You can use this technique in the same way to emphasize the meaning of a statement and build tension. For example: “We were able to increase our sales figures again this year … by a sensational … 30 percent.”  However, you should use this technique of mini-cliffhangers in good doses, otherwise your audience will think you have a language problem. To emphasize the importance of certain statements, mini-cliffhangers are a very effective stylistic device.

Cliffhanger before the start of the lecture

Perhaps you have also experienced speakers starting their presentation while they are still on their way to the stage. Thus, everything that is said in this period of time usually fizzles out. The counter design here would be the cliffhanger before you have said a single word. You go on stage, and before you begin your greeting, you look silently at your audience for a moment. In this brief moment, the audience has the opportunity to focus on the new person who is now on stage. Only after a brief moment of silence do you begin your presentation.

The cliffhanger can always be used to create attention. While creating your PowerPoint presentation, think about where this technique might be useful.

For those who would like to delve deeper into the topic of storytelling, we can recommend the seminar“Best of Storytelling“.