There are three types of Call To Action. Two are good; one’s dreadful. Which do you do?

29th September 2015

Communication is supposed to cause something. That’s the point of it.

So, every communication needs a Call To Action – where you call the recipients to act.

These actions could be:

  • Asking them to do one of many things – make a decision, give you advice, take an action, endorse your actions, allocate budget, recommend you to others, and so on
  • A one-off (“Please do X”) or recurring (“From now on, every time Y happens, please do Z”).
  • Immediate (“Please do X now”) or delayed (“Please do X before Friday”)
  • A yes/no choice (“please can you do X – yes or no?”); or – often better – a choice of yeses (“to progress this, we have two options here – X or Y. Which do you prefer?”)

But, you can group all these Calls To Action under one of three main types:

  • You choose the Call To Action – “please can you do X?”
  • The other person chooses the action – so you ask them “what would you advise we do next?”
  • Neither of you chooses the action

As I said in the Tip’s Title, two of these work, and one of them’s dreadful.

Obviously, the last one’s the dreadful one. Because if neither of you specify an action, there won’t be one. Which means your communication won’t have achieved something. Which, as the first sentence of this Tip said, was the only point of communicating it in the first place.

But what of the other two types – you choose the action or they do – which is better?

Well, it depends.

When you choose, you lead the discussion and subsequent action. Plus, if you suggest options that you’re happy with and they accept one of them, everyone’s happy.

But, it’s also often a good idea to ask for their suggestions for next steps. Firstly, they might think of better actions than you would have thought of.

But people are also very wedded to things they’ve come up with. I once asked my teenage son to tidy his bedroom. He, as you might expect, refused. But, when I asked for his advice as to the best way that we keep the house tidier in a way we were both happy with, he came up with some ideas for how he could tidy his bedroom.

And he’s kept to them.

If I can get my 14-year-old to tidy his bedroom, you can convince anyone to do anything.

Action point

Have a look at all the main communications you’re making today – in meetings, presentations, conversations etc. How are you going to ensure that each has a Call To Action? And, in which ones are you going to suggest the action, and in which are you going to ask them to? As long as “more than none” of you suggest an action, you’ll get one!

And, for a day when I guarantee you’ll have at least 15 Calls To Action which will dramatically improve how you communicate, have a look at my seminar with Drayton Bird. During the day, we’ll teach you loads of things you can implement immediately to transform your effectiveness every time you communicate.

Want more Tuesday Tips?

Every week, Andy releases a Tuesday Tip via email and his website, let’s take you back to the archive of tips.

Back to Tuesdays Tips