Change how you influence people, with a call-to-action.

It is a human need to make our words matter; to make meaning, and influence people through them. But in the humdrum of life, our words get lost. We can change that with a call-to-action. Often associated with written content, a call-to-action takes the form of a ‘next step’, in spoken word.

Judith Humphrey, a business communications expert, says, “The call to action gives legs to your message by transforming an idea into actionable steps.” It’s a skill to be built because most of us hesitate when it comes to the ‘ask’. Thus, whether you’re in a networking conversation, sales call, or email chat, here are ideas around how to invite people into taking action:

  1. Corridor chat. These are impromptu conversations, which could turn into something important. Let’s say your company’s VP passes you in the corridor. Your usual exchange: “How’s it going?” “Not bad.”

But say s/he just sat through a presentation of yours. Say: “I know you heard my presentation, I’m excited about the project.” Don’t stop there. You have their attention. Say, “I’d like to talk with you about how we can bring more resources to this program. I’d like to share my ideas with you.”

Another scenario – you come across someone from another team, who recently gave a talk you loved. Say, “I really liked your talk the other day, and I’m interested in learning more about (xyz). Would you be willing to talk to me for 30 mins?” Such exchanges usually end in setting up a slot for further conversation.

  1. Emails. “If you have any questions, let me know.” We end a lot of our emails this way. But, does that work? We need a strong call-to-action which spells out the steps we want people to take. For example, you are proposing a new hiring process, with timelines, response templates, etc. Say to your manager, “I would like your feedback on this by (date), so I can implement it.” Or “I would like your commitment on recommending this to 2 other teams, so we can gather data. Would you be willing to do that?” AsHumphrey says, your closing should open more doors.
  1. Support check-in. This is especially useful in check-in conversations with managers, or colleagues with whom we have venting sessions. People are always ready to help us, and often say, “Let me know if I can help you in any way.” Take them up on that offer, be it later.

If you’re getting ready to introduce a new idea, like a wellness policy or an inclusion practice, ask a colleague to review it and give you feedback before you present it to the organization. Or if unwell/ overwhelmed, see if you can confide in your manager, and seek help for one specific task.

What may seem like minute details, influences your entire work-life experience. If you come across as being proactive and articulate, that becomes your identity at work. And we want that, don’t we?

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