Refining the Call To Action

A call to action (CTA) is an essential part of almost any presentation. It sounds simple enough – tell your audience what you want them to do. But moving people from absorbing information into taking action after they’ve left the meeting room requires more thought and insight than just telling. You have to persuade and guide.

Let’s say you’ve just given a presentation on a particular product to the salespeople who will then explain the uses and benefits of the product to their clients. But the product is complex, their clients will ask probing questions, and the salespeople will each need to do some independent study and preparation. How can you help them with that after they’ve gone back to the office?

Or perhaps you are giving a presentation on a local political situation to people you hope will become volunteers and go door-to-door to get out the vote. How can you inspire them to not only take some of their valuable personal time, but also be able to inspire others to vote?

Or you may be proposing a major new investment in your department to senior management. Here the action required is more subtle – you want them to take the time to review your proposal, give it serious consideration, and contact you with any questions or concerns they may have.

Your entire presentation is a lead up to your CTA. How you organize your information and delivery is crucial. But the way you structure your CTA will make all the difference in whether or not your presentation gets real-world results.

There is no one-size-fits-all way of presenting a CTA, but there are a number of tools that can help you craft the perfect CTA for each presentation. Here are a few of the tools we find most effective:

  1. KNOW: The first and most essential step is to know your audience. The mnemonic we use at ProComm is K. N. O. W.
    • Knowledge – what is the knowledge level of your listeners about the subject?
    • Needs – what specific listener needs and concerns should you address?
    • Opinion & Attitude – What opinions and attitudes about your topic (or you) will your listeners walk in with?
    • Who – Who specifically is attending your presentation? Get as much information as you can about the individuals who will be your audience.
  2. DEFINE: Clearly define the desired goal, results, or problem the action will solve.
  3. TIME FRAME: Give the action a specific time frame. This keeps it from being pushed on to the back burner.
  4. CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS: If the action needed requires multiple steps, then give clear instructions on creating a step-by-step action plan.
  5. ACCOUNTABILITY: Encourage setting up accountability, either to colleagues, managers, or clients.
  6. FOLLOW UP: Follow up with something tangible – handouts, a business card, and/or an email if you have everyone’s email address. This is particularly important if you were unable to cover all the details of a product or project due to time constraints. Put the needed information in a handout.
  7. ASK QUESTIONS: Ask for and address any questions or concerns.
  8. BENEFITS: In closing, connect again to the benefits of taking the action(s).

While all these tools are important and useful, they build on the effectiveness of your entire presentation. If your material is not well-organized and expertly delivered, it’s likely your CTA will be ignored or even unheard.

ProComm Ltd has been helping business people improve their communication skills for over 22 years. We use interactive, personalized, small group trainings that include video recording and private coaching. Intensive practice and feedback from experienced trainers are the best ways we have found to develop and enhance professional communication skills.

You can learn more about our programs here. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you meet your business goals by identifying needs and creating solutions that maximize every communication opportunity, contact us here.