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

An audience listening very carefully

In a time of change, your ability to create inspiration will draw people to your project, motivate them to stay, and encourage them to create better results.

There is no fixed template for how you do this — but just as every great painting is formed from the same basic colours, and every great piece of music comes from the same basic notes, so every great vision is formed from the same basic building blocks.

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

This is partly about speaking the language they understand and appealing to principles they believe in. But mostly it is about creating something deeper.

As Henry Ford put it,

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

This building block is not simply about getting your audience to buy-in to your objective. It’s about showing them — rationally and emotionally — that they have an objective which overlaps with yours.

You achieve this by empathising with your audience:

  • 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 these answers there will be several ways you can inspire them.

Martin Luther King did it by saying:

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

Winston Churchill achieved the same by saying:

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

On the surface these seem to be opposing messages — but both were inspiring for their time, because both were appropriate to the emotional messages their audiences were longing to hear.

Whenever you talk to different audiences or stakeholders, do you tailor your messages to make them relevant for that audience, rationally and emotionally?

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

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Photo By The U.S. National Archives via

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