Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
14 May 2013

Why and how powerful speakers tell people what to do

IMG_0664My daughter doesn’t like being told what to do.  In fact, in our household of three rather strong characters, no-one likes being told what to do.  My darling girl’s usual response to a directive (more so to one of her dad’s than mine) is: You’re not the boss of me!

Just for the record, she reckons the “boss of our house” is me.  She wants to be a teacher when she grows up so “she can be the boss of the kids.”

When you’re presenting, you’re the boss.  And the people in your audiences want you to tell them what to do.

What I’m talking about is a “call to action.”  It’s when, during your talk or presentation, you tell your audience members what to do as a result of the insights you’re sharing that come from your own experiences.

Issuing a call to action positions you as a leader.  It gives you oodles of credibility.  And it helps make your talk transformational.

Let’s face it, talks that don’t have the capacity to transform are nowhere near as powerful as those that do.  And speakers who don’t share their own stories, insights, lessons and wisdom are nowhere near as powerful either.

Here are a few things that I notice many speakers forget or haven’t quite registered yet, whether they’re standing on the stage, presenting in the boardroom, pitching for business, or even talking to a networking group:

  • When you stand up to speak, you’re in charge of proceedings
  • Your audience members consider you an expert
  • Your audience members are looking to you to learn
  • People want to be informed, educated, entertained, and consider different perspectives

As an audience member, I always listen much more intently to a presenter who’s telling me what to do.  When she does she commands authority, and that makes me trust her lots more.  A call to action ensures I really think about the words being spoken.  And it directly connects what’s being spoken about with me, my life, and my own experiences.

When there’s a clear call to action, what’s spoken doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.  Never.

Putting a call to action in your talk is simple – and essential.  It’s often near the end of a presentation, but it doesn’t have to be.

It sounds like this:

  • I invite you to…
  • I encourage you…
  • Consider…
  • Have a think about…
  • I want you to…
  • I urge you to…

Watch how Arianna Huffington issues a call to action in her TED talk.  It’s a quickie – just four minutes.  Her call to action is at 3 minutes and 50 seconds.

[ted id=1044]
See?  It’s easy.

Now, next time you’re putting together an important talk (and aren’t they all?) ensure you include a clear call to action.

Own your insights, share them, and watch your credibility grow like Jack’s beanstalk.

~~~

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