(Photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget)
Imagine you’ve just given an amazing talk. It was well-paced, full of great stories, with no technical difficulties, and you received standing ovation. But if you didn’t built in a call to action, your talk will be relegated at most to “something entertaining” instead of “something life changing”. Why?
A call to action is the one step you want the listener to take after hearing your talk. The mistake most presenters make is assuming the audience will know what to do after hearing their talk (go to their website, buy their book, join their support group, volunteer for a new non-profit, donate to a named charity, or make a lifestyle adjustment). But unless you spell it out, people won’t make the leap. Since people are used to being entertained, if you want your talk to be life-changing, you need to tell people how to change their lives. It doesn’t have to be a big next step – in fact, the smaller the call to action is, the more likely people will take the first step painlessly.
Without a call to action, people are unlikely to remember your talk for more than a day or so (no matter how great it was). With no built-in way to keep the “thinking going”, you’ve given a one-way presentation, and not started a dialogue. A dialogue requires active participation of two (or more) and moves people from passive listeners to active participants.
A call to action also has the bonus of measuring how inspiring your presentation was. If you get 50% of your audience to join with you in doing something new, you’ve achieved a great deal. To build a movement, you need troops. With measured results, you’re both able to gauge your effectiveness and provide data showing that what you’re doing matters.
If the goal of your talk is to change lives, tell people exactly how to start their own life-changing experience with a call to action.