Management Matters: Getting People to Act

Do you ever wonder why you have to work so hard to get people to take action? It doesn’t matter if you are making a virtual presentation, leading a ZOOM meeting, or are involved in a one-on-one interaction, you need a strategy for preparing a message that gets results. This is not the time to ramble or lose focus. Here is how you can move people to action:

Start Strong – A strong opening that grabs the attention of your listener is the critical first step.. Many people tell me, “Once I get started I’m okay.” That can mean “Don’t listen to me for the first two minutes. Wait until I get going. It gets better later.” Not a winning strategy. 

Short & Focused – Clarity about your goal for speaking is the next step in being concise. There is no real point is starting out with “What I would like to talk about today is…” because the folks you are talking to probably know why you want to speak with them (unless you’ve decided to keep it a surprise!) There is no need to lay the groundwork for the topic; get right to the point within the first 30 seconds.

Develop Trust - People are persuaded by people they trust so share your feelings about the topic. If you think the topic is important then say so and tell them why.

Be Specific - Communicate in specific terms what you want people to do. It increases the chances that they will take action because you have spelled out exactly the action you want to see. For listeners to act, they need to leave you with a clear understanding of what you are asking of them: “Vote for me,” “Sign up today,” “Write a check.” 

WIIFM - Everyone is tuned in to W I I F M (What’s in it for me?) and that is what people really want to know. Articulate the benefits of action - it’s often the most important element to your message. (‘By doing this, you will ----‘ or ‘By NOT doing this, this will happen.’)

End Strong - It’s common knowledge that we remember the first and last thing we hear. Your closing should be as strong as your opening.

Changing how you communicate to enhance your message and how you are viewed by those who are listening takes some time, thought, and practice. If you make a commitment to yourself to craft your message in a more thoughtful and focused way, you will have a stronger impact, motivate others to take action, and you might even be able to talk less.

And when you DO speak, people will listen.

Nationally recognized consultant, trainer, author and professional speaker Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing people in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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