Simon Sinek – Call to Action

“He gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a Plan’ speech.” (Simon Sinek)

In his Ted talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” (click image for video) Simon Sinek’s  message, and presentaton style, inspire his audience to take action.

Sinek’s message effectively calls upon viewers to inspire others, or to find others who inspire them, by starting with why. And his presentation style employs questioning, simple visuals, and a powerful concluding story to engage his audience.

Here are a few strategies you can adopt from Sinek’s  presentation to inspire action with your next presentation…

Beginning – Priming the Pump: Sinek doesn’t begin his presentation with a simple, singular question. Instead, he poses a series of queries intended to prime the collective pump for content coming down the pipeline. “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example, why is Apple so innovative?…Why is it that they seem to have something different?”

Application: You know not to begin a presentation with a boring list of credentials. But do you need to start with a series of questions? Not necessarily – a powerful image, transformative statistic, or well-told story can also serve to prime the audience pump. Engage the audience immediately, and they’ll be more open to taking action.

Middle – Focus on Presenter, not PowerPoint: “How great leaders inspire action” has been viewed more than 10 million times, making it the 3rd most popular presentation in TED history. So Simon Sinek must have used a killer deck of PowerPoint slides, right? After all, countless corporate presentations focus on slide after slide after slide. Not Sinek though, his talk used only a single flipchart – not one slide. Audiences are influenced by the presenter…not PowerPoint.

Application: Delivering your call to action using a single flipchart (or similar PowerPoint-desertion) helps simplify the message, makes the presenter stand out, and increases your credibility – you must know your topic thoroughly in order to deliver your message with just one flipchart! All of these results can help inspire your audience to follow your call to action.

End – Story Time: At the end of his presentation, Sinek tells the powerful story of how 250,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak – they all arrived on the right day, at the right time, before the age of social media, websites, and email. Sinek comments that none of those 250,000 people showed up for Dr. King – they showed up for themselves. Sinek holds his audience as he transitions to drive home his call to action – “He gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.”  Then in conclusion, “We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

Application: There’s no better way to inspire your audience to take action than by closing with a powerful story that embodies your desired call to action.

Consider applying these presentation strategies to help you inspire your audience to action in your next presentation.

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