Have you ever sat in a meeting, on a teleconference, or in a webinar; reached the the end; and thought "Um ... so ... like ... what do I do now?"
Okay. Maybe you don't say "like," but you get my point. :)
Each person's time is incredibly precious, and we all want as many minutes in the day as possible filled with meaningful endeavors. Okay. Well ... for the most part. Whether you want every last one of your 1,440 minutes of the day consumed with meaning or not, I'm sure you will agree that you want as few of those 1,440 minutes wasted as possible because let's face it; those meetings, calls, and webinars that conclude without you receiving a specific plan of attack (or any kind of plan of attack) can really do something to you!
As such, when you present - and this includes educators in the classroom, too - always give your audience a call-to-action (CTA). (And if you are in marketing, you are already familiar with this term, right?)
A CTA is instruction you give an audience that is meant to provoke an immediate (and meaningful) response from your listeners.
Marketers already understand the power behind a CTA; it's meant to move their target audiences from being passive to active, from being slightly interested to fully engaged. They want to convert leads or targets into confirmed customers who ultimately become happy, loyal, repeat customers, resulting in referrals! Happiness. Loyalty. Repetition. What's not to love?!
While it's important your audience has a memorable experience during your presentation and that it learns something new or gains a new perspective on something it already knew, it is equally important to move the audience to actually do something with what you shared ... something that will inspire or change their lives, professions, or communities. Something that will lead them to being happy, loyal, repeat customers who want to continue to engage with you.
Remember any time you present - and I firmly believe this includes a myriad of communication in which you engage such as phone conversations, social media posts, et cetera - consistently think to yourself "In what difference-making endeavor do I want my audience to join?" or "Now that everyone has heard this, now what?"
Based on what you shared, think to yourself "What will extend their knowledge? What will extend their experience about this topic and create a richer meaning for them and those around them?"
It could be recommending they
The simple rules to creating an effective CTA is it must directly connect to your session topic - easy, right? - and it must move the audience to extend its thinking about the topic and to do so well after the conclusion of your presentation. That way, a metamorphosis of sorts occurs; your audience members go from inching along, listening during your talk to fluttering about, creating their own new knowledge. When you provide a CTA, your material is still on their minds, furthering your mission to transform your listeners into happy, loyal, repeat customers (or students)!
Educators, your CTA looks more like homework assignments and other types of assessments. You can read more about the best time to assign homework at this link.
Oftentimes, it is suggested CTAs belong in only informative presentations and not in those meant to persuade or entertain, but I believe they belong in any type of speech or presentation where you want the audience to leave with something it can use.