A call to action comes at the end of a speech when the speaker makes a direct appeal to the audience. This call is a nudge to get listeners to act based on what they just learned. Audiences usually remember the appeal the most, and if it is communicated effectively, a speaker’s call to action articulates what’s in it for listeners – and compels them to act.
Even though it is a key moment in the speech, too often, speakers do not close with a concise call to action out of fear of coming off as too direct. If you’re trying to write an effective ending to your talk, consider incorporating some of the following tips:
Make The Call To Action Specific And Tangible
Being too vague will leave the audience confused about what they’re supposed to do. If you’re struggling to be specific, think back to the main goal of your speech.
Is it to raise awareness about a new initiative? To raise money for a new project? Or is it to get customers to buy your product?
Whatever your objective is, write your call to action with that goal in mind. Think through the most important thing you need the audience to do. Then, give them a direct and realistic task delivered with a simple and punchy phrase.
Frame Their Actions As Necessary For Change
Aside from spelling out what they need to do, it would help if you showed the audience that the success of your idea hinges upon their participation. This is the most effective way to get their buy-in and make them feel like they can make a difference.
Depending on the topic, it is natural for the audience to feel like the weight and gravity of the problem you’ve outlined is too much for them to have any impact. Inviting listeners to be necessary and critical partners in the change-making process will make them feel empowered, useful, and more compelled to act.
Make It Worth Their While
To be fair to the audience, you are asking them to do something on your or your organizations’ behalf. People are busy enough, so you need to demonstrate what’s in it for them.
Perhaps, your call to action will better their lives, the lives of members of their community, or give them the satisfaction of feeling like they contributed to a cause bigger than themselves. The best calls to actions are framed in the context of the audience’s needs, fears, hopes, and desires. If you strategically channel those feelings, your audience will walk away feeling like they have no other choice but to act.
An Illustrative Example
Here’s an example of a compelling call to action that incorporates the advice above. Pretend the speaker is the Chief Public Affairs officer raising company awareness about the negative impacts of new zoning laws.
“The government’s new zoning policy will mean that we will have to close our doors after more than 50 years of being within this community. Our factory has been an anchor in this community for jobs, opportunity, and a sense of purpose. Re-locating for the first time in our company’s history will mean that many of you will have to trust on an unreliable public transportation system to get you to and from work. I know that many of you are opposed to this decision, but we can’t wish it away, we must act!
We need everyone here in this room to get involved. When this meeting is over, we need you to sign a petition we are sending to the Mayor. So far, we’ve gotten 1,000 signatures. With full employee participation, we can get this decision overturned and send a message that our company is here to stay.
The stakes are too high for us to sit on the sidelines. Without your help, the jobs, opportunities, and a sense of purpose we’ve built here will cease to exit. You have the power to defeat this proposal. I hope you will join me and do your part to save this factory.”
This closing has a direct ask–to sign a petition. It demonstrates that without their actions, the factory will close. And lastly, it articulates why it’s worth their while – the preservation of their community.
Regardless of the scenario, a call to action that includes these elements will ensure your audience walks away with clear direction, feeling motivated, and empowered. For more tips on how to write a phenomenal speech, contact us today.