by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today
[This is part four in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches. Click here for the other articles.]
Here’s a fact—whenever your athlete leaves a meeting, a practice, or a huddle without knowing EXACTLY what to do…you’ve missed a chance at success.
And you may never get that opportunity for success again.
You need to nail the effective persuasion part
Our job is to convince people to take positive action.
Persuasion is our bread & butter and the best coaches are masters of it.
Unfortunately, persuasion does not come easy for many. That’s the bad news.
The good news—with practice you can become very effective at persuasion.
Persuasion, the act of convincing someone to take positive action is a series of steps. Over the past weeks, we’ve been working on the first three steps of effective persuasion, which are:
- Step 1. Grab Attention
- Step 2. Spark Interest
- Step 3. Fascinate
Now it’s time for the final step…
This last step is no secret to the marketing world.
They are experts at using a call-to-action:
“So you don’t forget, call before midnight!”
“Operators are standing by, so call now!”
“Stop smelling bad, buy Stink Away today!”
We can learn a lot from from the marketing world. And we should, because coaches are marketers, and an effective call-to-action can make or break you.
What makes an effective call-to-action?
A call-to-action is asking (or telling) someone to take action. Athletes hear them all the time:
“You’re primary receiver, so run a post pattern.“
“The bus leaves early, be here at 6:30 am.“
“Get your physicals to the trainer by end of the day, tomorrow.“
Each of those are simple.
Each are specific.
And each leaves little doubt in the mind of the person what action he should take.
Being specific and keeping it simple are at the core of a good call-to-action.
There are a few other important things you should keep in mind:
A good call-to-action aligns with the person’s values. “I know you want to win this game, so doing this drill now will help you score in tonight’s game.”
A sense of urgency improves the odds the person will follow through. “The deadline for your physical form is tomorrow. No form and you cannot be on the team.”
An examples of the action helps. “See the exercise Jane just did? You need to do the exact same thing.”
Timing of your call-to-action is critical
When do you think is the perfect time to ask someone to take action?
It depends on the person (or team), and the situation.
Usually, after you complete the first three steps of persuasion is the best time to issue a call-to-action. If you ask before then, your chances of success dwindle.
And don’t hesitate.
Strike while the fire of fascination is burning bright.
Wait too long, and the person will have moved on to the next call in in her life (friends, studies, work, social media, etc.)
You will know if your timing was right, if the action happened.
If it didn’t, then next time adjust your timing.
The medium matters
Be mindful of the method of communication you use.
The medium you use matters.
Personally, I find my calls-to-action work best when issued in person.
Yet, there are times when calls come through email (summer letters), or phone calls (distant recruits), or letters (fundraising).
A good rule of thumb—the closer to a personal connection you make when you issue your call, the greater the chance of success.
Also, be selective with your choice of words. Here are three ways of asking for the same action:
- “Do as I say—pick up that barbell now!“
- “Lifting weights are critical to your success. Ready to lift?“
- “I notice you are not lifting correctly. Would you like to discuss it?“
They elicit a very different emotional response in the person. When you issue your call, what exactly do you want the response to be?
Your choice of wording will determine how positive the response is.
Where can you go with this?
Let me ask you,
- Would you like to be a better coach? Then, click here.
- Simple, short tips can make your coaching more effective. Please listen to a few.
- Stuck? Then try this.
Each of those are my calls-to-actions.
Did any of them work on you? Did you click any of the links?
Take a moment and think through why you did click, or why you did not.
Here’s the bottom line of the entire series
Persuasion is the life blood of coaching. Effective persuasion is how you will get those around you to take positive action…the positive action they need to take.
Like all good tools, effective persuasion won’t do you any good if it lingers in the bottom of your toolbox.
Take it out, practice with it, and use it.
The better you are at effective persuasion, the better coach you will be!