7 Ways To Lead Your Audience To The Next Step
by Andrea Pacini —
If there’s a common purpose to most business presentations it’s to persuade the audience to act upon your ideas in some way.
The best way to persuade the audience to do what you want them to do is with a clear call to action.
If the call to action isn’t clear enough, the audience will fail to act. Your presentation will have been in vain.
For example, imagine you were giving a webinar or an introductory workshop on your area of expertise. The objective is for the audience to sign up for a discovery call to see if you can work together.
Most presenters say something like:
‘If you think you need a bit of help on (their area of expertise), I’m happy to offer a discovery call.’
The problem is that even if someone was interested in a discovery call, they don’t know how to book one in. So they won’t do it. The call to action isn’t specific enough.
Many presenters miss out on an enormous amount of business opportunities simply because their calls to action are not specific enough.
Seven elements to an effective call to action
Let’s break down the key components of an effective call to action.
These characteristics are mainly relevant to sales presentations but you’ll be able to learn something here for any presentation. All business presentations are selling something—whether it’s an idea, a project, yourself or your business.
You don’t need to use all of these elements. See what works for you, based on your audience, the context and what makes you comfortable.
1) Be specific
Here’s how the above example, with the vague offer of a discovery call, could have been better phrased:
‘If you enjoyed this session and you’d like to learn more about what we’ve covered today, at the moment I have an opportunity for three complimentary consultations to see if there might be a fit between what you’re looking for and what we have to offer.
Regardless of whether or not there’s a good fit, I can promise you that you’ll walk away with much greater clarity on how you can (fill the blank).
So, if you’re interested, just type ‘yes’ in the chat now and I’ll get in touch to see if you qualify. And if that’s the case, we’ll arrange a time for a call.’
In this case people know what they have to do to signal their interest. They simply need to type ‘yes’ in the chat. It’s a small change that makes a huge difference.
2) Include a logical next step
It’s often inappropriate to move into full-on sales mode during an initial presentation一especially at something like an educational webinar or an introductory workshop on your area of expertise.
So, what’s an alternative logical next step? The best approach is one which makes sense to the audience based on where they are right now.
It could be that the audience books or expresses their interest in a consultation or discovery session—as we’ve been looking at.
Or you could invite them to complete a quiz to ascertain the areas in which they perform well and the areas they need to improve.
Alternatively, you could offer them access to some free resources to learn more about how you can help them. This is usually in return for their contact details.
The possibilities are endless. What’s important is that you’re clear about the logical next step, which may or may not be a sale.
In Ramit Sethi’s book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, he says: “The way you get people to floss is to just ask them to floss one tooth. That’s it. Suddenly, they are “flossing.” Their brains say, “I’m the type of person who likes to floss.” Maybe after a day or two they start flossing two teeth. And why stop there? After a few weeks they are flossing all of their teeth because their brain sees it wasn’t as hard a habit as they thought.”
Your next logical step should follow this principle of leading your audience at an appropriate pace towards your end goal. Start with one tooth and take it from there.
3) Include an immediate next step
Not only does the next step need to be logical, ideally it should also be immediate.
If you ask the audience to type ‘yes’ in the chat during a webinar, or to fill out a form during an in-person workshop expressing interest on the spot, that’s immediate.
Always try to think how to make the next step as immediate as possible, even when it seems hard to do.
4) Sell the opportunity
You have something valuable to offer to those you seek to serve. So don’t be shy about it. This is an opportunity for them. Of course it helps you and your business too, but it also helps your audience.
Frame what you want your audience to do as an opportunity for them, not as something you need from them. Language matters and using the phrase ‘I have an opportunity’ can be powerful.
‘… at the moment I have an opportunity for three complimentary consultations …’
5) Create scarcity and/or urgency
In our example, where the presenter is offering complimentary consultations, we limited it to three. This helps to create tension.
‘I have an opportunity for three complimentary consultations …’
If everybody can reserve a consultation, there’s no tension. If only three people can do it, it helps to drive demand for your offer.
This works in person if you ask participants to fill out a form and others can see them doing it. It also works in a webinar where everyone can see the chat responses. If ten people all signal their interest, knowing there are only three spaces, that’s the sort of tension you’re looking for.
To create yet more tension the presenter could have said that the opportunity has a time limit. The opportunity for the complimentary consultation might expire in two or three days.
Of course, this has to be genuine or you’ll undermine your credibility. You don’t want to be salesy and pushy. In our example, our presenter could work out how many consultations she actually needs to have (and how often) to hit her sales targets.
If she knows she needs to have three consultations after each presentation and she gives one presentation per week, that’s where urgency and scarcity come from.
6) Give reassurance
It’s helpful to soften the sales element of your call to action by offering reassurance that there’s no obligation, nor any pressure. Make it clear that the audience is expressing interest rather than committing to anything more.
‘Regardless of whether or not there’s a good fit, I can promise you that you’ll walk away with much greater clarity on how you can (fill the blank).’
What the presenter is saying here is that it may or may not be a good fit. They may end up working together or not. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
7) Make sure it’s not confusing
Resist the temptation to include too many elements in your call to action. You only need one next step and I would never include more than two.
No one wants to book a follow-up call, download a report, take your quiz, read your article, join your private Facebook group and buy from you today.
This is confusing. The end result of asking for too much is that the audience will do nothing.
Choose one logical next step and stick to it. You could have a secondary call to action, but that’s it. No more than that.
My call to action to you
Now it’s time for me to deliver a call to action to you. For your next presentation try the following tips:
Think about your objective. What do you want your audience to do?
Prepare a clear and specific call to action
Make sure it meets most of the seven characteristics above
The purpose behind most business presentations is to encourage an action from the audience.
The aim is not to share information.
Therefore, it’s crucial for you to include a compelling call to action at the end of your presentation.
A good call to action will:
- Be specific
- Include a logical next step
- Include an immediate next step
- Sell an opportunity
- Create urgency and/or scarcity
- Provide reassurance—to make sure it doesn’t seem salesy
- Not be confusing and only include one or two next steps
If you enjoyed this article, I would love to hear from you. Please get in touch or share the article with any colleagues or friends who might benefit from the ideas.
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