Presentation Calls to Action (CTAs)

Many speakers’ goal for a presentation is to get more work or to make money. When coaching presentations, I advise my clients to take a step back and think about the audience, to be audience-centric. As a presenter, you are not there to sell anything, even in bid presentations. You want to educate your audience about something. In bid presentations, you’re educating the selection committee about the best way to select a vendor for their project that happens to align with your best characteristics and differentiation. Especially in content marketing (thought leadership) presentations, you want to make sure you have a clear next step, otherwise known as presentation calls to action.

web_offer_banner_3_contentmarketingFor some of you, presentation calls to action, or CTAs as marketers will call them, are old hat, and it is second nature for you to include them. I bring this topic to your attention because my husband recently attended four presentations from national speakers for work, and only one presentation included a call to action (his company’s presentation, of course). Being a content marketer, he saw it as a wasted opportunity for every one of the other presenters. Many of them walked out the auditorium to never hear from the audience members again.

I’m not saying you should present and immediately ask someone to buy; that isn’t the action you want your audience to take immediately. You want to speak to build awareness that you are a thought leader and that you are the go-to person/company to fill their specific needs. Presenting is the #1 way to position yourself as a thought leader [source: Hinge Research Institute] because it increases your visibility, creates an instant relationship with members of the audience, and you get to share your expertise first-hand. (Besides the great visibility to your audience, you also get name recognition with potential prospects that couldn’t attend that saw your name in the event’s promotion or the conference program.)

Since most of my clients are B2B (Business-to-Business) companies, their sales cycles are longer than businesses selling to consumers, and they never get a sale during their first encounter. Because you need multiple touch points, when you present you need to find a way to continue that relationship. Presenting is an excellent visibility, but you don’t want to disappear after that, and many event planners and conferences will not hand over their attendee list (unless you sponsor the event). This reason is where a call to action comes into play.

In your presentation, usually toward the end of it, ask your audience to do something. Usually, this means to go to your website to download a related guide or ebook, or have them give you their business card, or to register for a follow-up [non-sales] meeting.

Many times, I will present to local organizations and associations for free to get my name out there and to build my email list. At the end of my presentation, I ask the audience to give me their business card. In exchange, I will raffle off my book, or I will email them something special like a free copy of an ebook or something from my SpeakU presentation skills course that I usually do not give away.

Because I have a store on my website, sometimes I’ll give out a promo code for something free that way too. This giveaway provides them a chance to continue the relationship by reading more of my expertise, which continues to position me as the thought leader. Plus, when they buy or download something, I get their email address too.

web_offer_banner_3_contentmarketingUtilizing calls to action is a great way to maximize all of your content marketing efforts, even for other tactics outside of speaking. In your blog, ask your readers to download something like my examples on the right and below. In your email newsletter, promote an upcoming presentation or webinar. Again, even if they don’t attend, they see that you’re presenting and see you as an expert in your field. (I’ve gotten new clients this way more often than you would think.)
For your next presentation, add a call to action. Keep it sincere and audience-centric, meaning that your thinking of what is best for the audience. You want an action that relates to the presentation and not just sells something. For example, if I’m presenting to the construction industry about team bid presentations, then I’d promote my free guide 6 Presentation Strategies to Increase Your Closing Rate 20%, my free webinar How to Win Bid Presentations – David Vs. Goliath, or give away my ebook Winning Q&A Strategies as the next step. These calls to action will continue my relationship with them, it further positions me as the expert in coaching construction bid presentations, and it gets them on my email list to continue their buying process.
I’ll give you a BIG tip to presentation calls to action too. Add a slide to your presentation with your CTA. This addition helps with the visual learners in the audience and it reinforces what you’re saying orally. (This slide is of particular importance if you want them to go to your website to do something.) If you want their business cards, give them a visual cue by holding up a basket to show them how to give it to you. Admittedly, this trick also helps because I sometimes forget to say my call to action because I’m in the groove presenting or get distracted by a question. Add your call to action to the last slide of your presentation with your contact info or the slide right before that contact slide.

Additional Resources

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.

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