How to Improve Your Call to Action in a Presentation

Aug 9, 2021

Every presentation needs a purpose. And, that is why every presentation you give between now and the day you decide to stop speaking needs a call-to-action. A call-to-action or CTA encourages your audience to do it as it implies – to take action on what has just been presented to them. Without a call-to-action, your talk has no mission and no higher purpose. After all, if you just asked your audience to invest 30, 60, or 90 minutes to hear you speak then it is a necessity to tell them what they need to do with this new information or you simply are wasting their time.

Assuming we all are here because we respect our audiences, let’s dissect this further and explore the types of call-to-actions at our disposal and the best way to deliver on them.

The Types

The idea of a call-to-action seems relatively simple: give a talk and tell the audience what action to take next. In theory, it is straightforward but there is actually a little bit more to it. For starters, audience members have different temperaments and needs so you need to make sure you are choosing the appropriate type of action. You have three you can choose from:

Disturbance: This approach implies that your talk was intended to shake things up and spark a desire for change and growth. It’s an acknowledgement that the current system or process is broken and something needs to be modified for future improvement. The theme of action here is either to change or stop and then take action to do the next right thing.

Propel: This style of call-to-action is intended to inspire, motivate, and innovate. You’ll generally want to use this approach to encourage additional reading, brainstorming, obtainment of resources, and anything to advance your shared message beyond the presentation.

Evangelize: The evangelism CTA is all about empowering and promoting ideas. You are generally giving the presentation to influence action. A great example of this would a sales pitch or any scenario where someone is pushing a product or service.

“Because” It Matters

Now that we have a foundation of options, let’s dive into the best way to execute on any of the above options. Several years ago a Harvard study was conducted studying the impact of an effective call-to-action. The key finding from the research was the power of utilizing the word “because.” In one scenario, a group of presenters delivered a talk and then included a call-to-action. For conversation’s sake, let’s say it was an item like:

“Now that I am done with this talk, go buy this book.”

When applying this call-to-action only 60% of the attendees actually bought the book. In the second scenario, they delivered the exact same talk but this time they added the word “because” so the call-to-action looked something like:

“Now that I am done with this talk, go buy this book BECAUSE it will change your life.” The 60% participation score ended up jumping to 94%. Utilizing the word “because” is an absolute game changer.


As we wrap up on this topic, let’s first acknowledge that every presentation needs a call-to-action. Again, your presentation needs a mission and purpose. Once you have that foundation, you need to determine which one of the three options is the best fit. And, once you have chosen your CTA type, make sure to utilize the word “because.” If you can follow that basic structure, you’ll be giving presentations that really make an amazing impact.

By Scott Schwertly