If you don’t ask, the answer is never going to be “yes.â€

That variation of a popular adage holds the truth for the fifth and final biggest mistake that leaders make when speaking. (For the A group of people holding up signs with question marks on them.other four big mistakes in this series, please click here.) They don’t Rally to Action; they fail to ask us to do anything at the end of their remarks.

What I generally recommend to my clients is to have a clear idea of what you want to happen at the conclusion of your presentation before you start preparing your content. Here are some examples of what you might want:

  • To get approval for a new project.
  • To sell your product or service.
  • An investment or a partner.
  • To attract a group of volunteers.
  • To raise funds for your cause.
  • To gain support for your idea.

It helps to understand that the “ask†does not really start in the final moments of your presentation. Throughout your message, intersperse several places where we can nod our heads and say, “yes,†in agreement with whatever you’re saying. The more we nod or think “yes,†the higher the chances that we will continue in that direction and go along with you at the end. Be sure to state in simple language what you expect or need us to do following your message, preferably with a solid deadline and some kind of direct benefit.

This week, I’m off to the Blastoff Event in San Diego to learn from my coach, Allison Maslan, and to meet with other entrepreneurs who want to expand their business and advance their personal goals, too. For the first time, I’ve taken an exhibit table, with a goal of introducing our services to business and community leaders from across the country. Will keep you posted on what I take away from the workshops and what happens with the folks I meet!

Before I head out, I am delighted to share with you the acronym P-O-S-E-R. It’s what the five biggest mistakes we’ve been talking about in recent weeks spell out.

  • P – Prepare by asking questions and getting answers before you start writing.
  • O – Organize the content with a clear opening, overview, main points and close.
  • S – Simplify and Slant towards the motivations of those attending.
  • E – Energize and Entertain the audience with your voice, visuals and gestures.
  • R – Rally to Action with a direct request, with a timeline, and stated reward or benefit.

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