A brilliant flash of light, thunder, and color illuminates the dark, quiet sky. Your heart skips a beat as the show begins, instantly grabbing your attention and transporting you back to 6th grade when you got to stay up late and watch the fireworks with your Aunt Nancy. As the show continues, it settles into a rhythm of bangs and booms, sizzlers and flares. But just when you’re about to check your mobile phone, the finale begins. The pace increases, the intensity elevates, and you are once again captivated as the show concludes with a heart-thumping BANG.
Dissecting the flow, the beginning and ending were the two most special moments. They delivered the highest impact and were crafted with the most care and pizzazz. Musicians spend extra effort on intros and endings, while psychologists study the ‘primacy and recency’ effect. The start and conclusion of movies, performances, books, stories, and even relationships are the ones we remember most.
So why do we consistently blow it in the corporate world? We begin our PowerPoint presentations with a legal disclaimer or a boring agenda, only to conclude with the fizzle of an awkward pronunciation that it mercifully has ended. If you examine most corporate performances such as investor presentations, board meetings, business speeches, sales pitches, or executive briefings, the majority of us have it backwards. The best stuff gets lost in the middle while the most important parts (the beginning and end) are squandered.
If you want to close the deal, win the investment, up-sell your clients, or delight your boss, put the most important stuff up front and at the end. If you start and end with a bang, you’ll captivate your audience at the start and leave them with a memorable conclusion. These are the places to insert your best material, bold vision, surprising conclusion, provocative stance, killer stat or gripping story.
A simple inversion can go a long way. Stop burying your best stuff in the middle and you’ll enjoy a big shift in results. Start big. End big. Win big.