Creating inspiration, part 2: make it relevant to your audience

An audience listening very carefully

During this time of change, your ability to create inspiration will draw people to you, motivate them to stay, and encourage them to create better results.

There is no fixed way to do this — but just as every great piece of music is formed from the same basic notes, so every great vision is formed from the same basic building blocks, arranged in different ways.

The second of these blocks is to make your vision relevant to your audience.

You do this partly simply by speaking in language your audience will understand. Partly you do it by appealing to the principles they believe in. And if you want people to long for your project to succeed then it is also about creating something far deeper.

Henry Ford said that:

“Nobody at work is apathetic except those who are in pursuit of someone else’s objective.”

So this building block is not simply about getting your audience to buy-in to your objective, it’s about helping them to realise that they have an objective which just happens to align with yours. It’s about getting them to long for your shared project to succeed.

The way you learn how to do this is by empathising with your audience, both rationally and emotionally:

  • What are they thinking about?
  • What are they feeling?
  • What are their hopes, fears, and priorities?
  • Do they want a challenge? Do they want to feel heroic? Or do they simply want to feel safe?

Once you know the answers to these questions there will might be several ways you could inspire your people.

You could copy Martin Luther King and paint a picture of the better world you want to create:

“I have a dream…, I have a dream…, I have a dream…”

Or you could copy Winston Churchill and describe a world filled with endless struggle:

“We shall fight them…, we shall fight them…, we shall fight them… We shall never surrender.”

On the surface these seem to be opposite messages but they both succeeded — and the reason they did so was because they both communicated the messages their audiences were longing to hear.

When you talk to the people who matter in your life, do you tailor your message to make it relevant for each audience? Do you engage with them both emotionally and rationally? Would changing your approach bring better results?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By The U.S. National Archives via StockPholio.net

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