Support your audience at every step on the path from thinking to doing.
We all assume that changing people’s attitudes leads to changes in their behavior. But just because people know something is good to do, doesn’t mean they will do it.
Research shows big gaps and losses between a) developing positive attitudes towards action, b) developing an intention to act, c) actually taking action, and d) sustaining that effort.
You can reduce the number of people that drop off at each step by doing two things: (1) anticipating and reducing the barriers that people might face at each step and (2) providing incentives, cues and extra motivation at each step. So, for example, a follow up phone call with the people who attended your meeting could help translate a general positive attitude into a clear intention to act. Telling them where they can get the tools, materials or other resources they need to take action could help translate that intention into action. And connecting them to a community of people that are taking similar steps could provide that extra motivation that is needed for sustained effort.
The kind of motivation and support you provide will depend on the specific barriers you anticipate and on what motivates your target audience. The important thing is to think this through before-hand and do what you can to support your audience’s journey from attitude change to sustained action.
–Dr. Purnima Chawla, Founder and President, Center for Nonprofit Strategies