Persuasive communicators know the power of stating their Bottom Line Up Front. They state their main point immediately and then back it up with the necessary evidence. Develop the habit and you are more likely to be heard, understood and believed.
You are more likely to be heard because listeners’ gnat-like attention spans are likely to be hijacked at any time. Take too long to get to your point and you will find that impatient listeners have already started thinking about something else. If they believe what you say, it doesn’t matter so much if they tune out after they’ve heard your point. If they don’t believe, it, they may at least pay close attention to the rest, if only to refute your point. It’s like a newspaper article—even if you don’t read the whole story, you get the gist of it from the headline.
You can’t convince others unless they understand you, and putting the bottom line up front helps here as well. First, it makes you think clearly about what you want to say; in order to give your bottom line up front, you have to know what your bottom line is. Although this may sound obvious, too many speakers ignore this rule. They launch their half-baked thoughts into a monologue and think through what they are saying as it comes out. That’s where the ums and ahs, the irrelevancies and even the occasional contradiction come in, further confusing the listeners and taxing their patience. Sometimes more is actually less, because the added verbiage makes it harder for people to follow your thinking.
Second, stating your main point up front gives the listener the big picture which they can then use to better organize the additional information that follows. For example, slides which use a headline containing the main point instead of a meaningless or ambiguous title, are shown to improve user comprehension and learning of the material.
Finally, putting the bottom line up front makes you more credible. You will sound more crisp and confident, and that sends a powerful signal that you know your stuff.
By the way, if you still want to put the bottom line where it usually goes, there’s no reason you can’t also put it at the end. Repetition doesn’t hurt—as long as they already have heard the bottom line up front.