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, and encourage them to deliver better results.

There is no one 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 blocks is to make your vision relevant to your audience.

Part of the way you can achieve this is by speaking in a 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 this is. He said:

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

You can achieve this 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, dreams, and priorities?
  • Do they want a challenge? Do they want to feel heroic? Or do they simply want to feel safe?

Martin Luther King inspired people because he told them:

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

Winston Churchill inspired people when he described 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 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 emotionally as well as rationally? Would changing your approach bring you better results?

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

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)

Photo By The U.S. National Archives via

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