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

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

There is no single ‘right’ way of doing this — but just as every inspiring piece of music is formed from the same basic notes, so every inspiring vision is formed from the same basic building blocks, arranged in different ways.

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

Part of the way you can achieve this is by speaking in language your audience will understand. Part is about appealing to the principles they believe in. And if you want people to long for your project to succeed then you also need to do something more.

Henry Ford explained why. He said:

“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 understand why they have an objective which just happens to align with yours.

The way you achieve this is by empathising with your audience, both rationally and emotionally:

  • Not only what are they thinking about but 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 might be several ways that you could inspire 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 toil and struggle:

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

These two things seem to be opposites. But they both succeeded because they both communicated what their audiences were longing to hear at the time.

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

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