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Here’s how to make a powerful call to action in a business presentation

01 Jun, 2020 Speeches and presentations


Calls to action are vital to make in your internal and external business presentations because they are the key moments to persuade decision-makers to take action to support your case. If you don’t include a call to action in each presentation, your results will fall short of their potential.

The most vital moments in your business presentations are at the start and finish. The first points in a presentation tend to be remembered comparatively well (primacy effect) and are transferred into longer-term memory.

Points at the end of the presentation are the most recent and therefore are likely to still remain in the short-term memory (recency effect). These are the most important of all because they are the points people are the most likely to remember and act upon. Therefore, the close in your business presentation is the key time to persuade them to make a decision to support your case.

Call to action

All communication is now acknowledged by experts as influencing rather than merely informing, even if the intention is just to inform, like in a progress report. Communication – including presentations – always influences the minds of the audience. Therefore, make the most of the opportunity in every presentation to influence your audience to take action. At the end of your presentation, prompt your audience to follow up on your words.

A call to action (CTA) is what it says, intended to persuade people to do what you ask them at the end of your presentation. It is intended to offer your audience a clear choice, a strong reason to act, such as making a decision or going away from the event to get something happening.

A call to action is a vital part of written material as well – in marketing emails, blogs, advertising and website content.

Here are four types of calls to action: change, stop, discourage, and continue:

  • Change means you want to persuade the audience to think in a new way or adopt a new idea that influences their behavior.
  • Stop is the opposite: you persuade the audience to stop doing something (like using outdated software or work process).
  • Discourage is an argument to persuade the audience not to start something if they haven’t already started.
  • Continue means you want to persuade the audience to continue doing what they have been doing, such as deciding to continue funding a project, re-electing a candidate, or keep buying a business product.

Only use one type of CTA for each presentation. Otherwise, your message will get watered down. Therefore, assess your audience and decide which CTA applies best to them overall.

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About the author and editor Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from

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