One of the most common ways to end a presentation is with a visual that says “Thank You” or “Thank You for your Attention” — something along those lines. But, the slide itself should not be used to replace or echo what should only be spoken.
The closing visual should not bear the responsibility of thanking the audience for anything. This is the job of the presenter because a person, not a slide, thanks people. Imagine if you were using a flip chart or whiteboard to present content — would you manually print the words “Thank You” when your talk ended? No. Thus, when a final image is projected, the same answer should apply. I understand the intention of the “thank you” slide but it’s visual function has little value as a closing to a well-designed presentation. So what other options do you have?
The easiest way to end a presentation is to display the opening slide again. This immediately signals the end of the talk, because the opening image is displayed, once again. Rather than making a duplicate copy of the first slide and placing it at the end, you can set your slide show to “Loop Continuously until Esc” where the presentation will navigate from the last slide back to the beginning (closing the “loop”) until you press the Escape (Esc) key. We originally discussed this option in a 2009 post called the PowerPoint “Loop” Option. To create the loop, from the Slide Show menu, choose the “Setup Slide Show” option. Here is the “Set Up Show” dialog box in Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 for Windows, with the “loop” checkbox selected.
Another option for ending a presentation is to display a list of supporting publications as references. This type of ending is usually associated with academic, scientific, medical, and research-based presentations. Some endings can include a “call to action” where the audience is given a task to complete in order for some activity to continue or process to be completed. Other endings may offer a path or guidance toward some attainable goal, such as “Next Steps…” or “Future Considerations…”
Regardless of these endings — a “thank you” is always a verbal expression of gratitude and not something relegated to a projected visual display.