All great presenters have one thing in common: they know when to quit

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In my last post I was talking about the fact that nobody will buy 100% of your material 100% of the time, and how that is totally a-ok. Now I want to talk about another moment that happens in all successful presentations.

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It’s that moment when all your work to carefully motivate your audience, and all the value you provided, blossoms into a climax, a high where everybody (or almost everybody) understands what you’re saying. They relate to you personally, they deeply see the connection between you and your topic, and they are able to truly comprehend the core of your presentation.

They are transformed now. And they look different. They lean forward in their chairs, they scribble furiously on their notepads, they look directly into your eyes.

That moment is what I represent as the summit of the storytelling mountain. You’re at the top. You’re victorious. You’re ready to plant a flag that reads “Summit of Mount Cassese.” You’ve reached the highest point of the megalomaniac Matteo Cassese kingdom.

I’m joking, of course, because this summit is not about me or you, it’s rather the high point of your narrative, the climax of your topic.

When you look at your path, after the summit there is a sharp downhill movement. You race quickly to the end.

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Your job is to recognize that this exhilarating moment, when you finally transform your audience into a group that deeply understands what your presentation is about, is the moment to leave. Basta, finito, schluss, ende. That’s your grand finale.

Wait a sec, you could say. Why do I want to end while everybody has bought my idea and my delivery? Well, this moment can’t last forever. Even when we are excited, we have limited attention spans.

Don’t forget about the purpose of your presentation: is it to gloat under bright lights, or do you want a less selfish, more complex outcome?

Maybe it’s time to start a conversation. Maybe it’s time to talk through the details and agree on the fine print. Maybe it’s time to sign a deal and get the money. Maybe it’s time to get the boss’s approval. None of these things will you accomplish if you overstay your welcome on the stage.

A more legitimate question is: how do I go from the bright lights of the climax to an ending? And that’s exactly what we’re going to tackle in my next posts.

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