“Many of my clients are surprised that their audiences “just don’t get it,” Esther Choi writes in Let the Story Do the Work

The reason people don’t get it? As presenters, we aren’t clear about our “call to action”.

Imagine we want to persuade a group of medical professionals to buy a new insurance product. Our pitch shares recent statistics that show the financial risk of not having adequate protection. We then tell a story about someone who didn’t think they needed extra protection and was sued and had to file for bankruptcy.

“At the end of this story, there should be little doubt about what these medical professionals should do: buy the additional policy,” Esther writes. “It’s easy to fall into thinking that that’s so obvious, you don’t have to say it.” 

Don’t make that mistake, Esther warns us.

Our insurance pitch needs to end by us saying: “That’s why we’re excited to bring this product to you, to prevent you from suffering a similar outcome.”

The bottom line? We need to be crystal clear about our call to action. We must let our audience know the results we wish to see.

“Do we want them to take a specific set of actions? Are we trying to sway opinions? Perhaps we are intending to create a dialog. Whatever the outcome, we must “craft the end of [our] story accordingly, and with care,” Esther writes.

The ending above is what Esther calls a “closed” ending. There are also situations where we may choose an “open” ending.

Esther shares the story of Reena. While visiting Mumbai, she was coaxed into seeing a fortune teller. “Trained as an engineer and deeply analytical by nature, Reena found the idea of some sage she’d never met having special access to her past and future beyond ludicrous,” Esther writes.

“Yet she was blown away by how much detail this fortune teller knew about her life and how many things he predicted that turned out to be true. . . He told her, ‘I have found your book.'”

Reena shares this story and then asks: “Do you believe that there is a book out there somewhere about your life?”

As an introvert, she intentionally used an open ending to turn the next part of the story over to the listener(s). Her open-ended closing allowed her to create memorable relationships at networking and other events.

“Whether it is open or closed, the last part of your story in any setting is crucial and needs to be the result of a conscious decision,” Esther writes. 


Reflection: Do I typically end a presentation with a strong and straightforward call to action?

Action: Experiment with a closed and open ending.

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