One of the dictionary definitions of inspire is “to communicate to the spirit”. I think that’s about as perfect a definition as you can get for the word. If you’re like me you get a big uplifting feeling inside you, which is hard to describe, when you listen to someone who inspires you.
And even though everyone can communicate, most people can’t communicate in an inspirational way. That’s too bad since inspirational communication would be a great skill to learn. You’d not only be reaching someone’s head, you’d be reaching into that person’s soul. That can be a powerful skill to know. So what can you do to really reach others in that way?
Finding Your Inspirational Side
Part of becoming inspiring is in knowing what inspires others. Figuring out what inspires others might be hard to find, but that is to be expected. After all, we’re talking about a subject the dictionary defined as “communication to the spirit”. It doesn’t seem as if it is something that can easily be explained.
I’ve examined a lot of inspiring speeches and stories. It does seem as if there are common features behind them. The biggest and most important feature of something that is inspirational is in the underlying message of the story. That message uses a powerful belief that moves the audience. In a sense, the belief behind your story is what makes your communication speak to the spirit.
All inspiring things have a belief behind them. It’s the foundation of what makes something inspirational. This is such an important requirement for becoming inspirational that I doubt you can have anything inspirational without a belief underlying it.
Something People Can Believe In
Not every belief will work though. It has to be something your audience can directly relate to. People will be more inspired if the belief directly relates to them somehow. Imagine someone making an inspirational speech about a company to people who have no direct relationship with it. It just won’t work.
It’s also important to make the underlying belief of your story something believable. An inspirational speech about something the audience can’t believe will only make them dismiss the entire message. The belief has to be something people think is achievable.
Of course, finding something others can believe in won’t always work. Anyone can find something others can believe in if you try hard enough but it doesn’t mean it is inspirational. So expressing something like “recycling is good” will have a lot of others agreeing, but you’ll find it really isn’t inspirational.
One example of an inspiring story is Liz Murray. At age 15 she and her father moved into a homeless shelter. She started to turn her life around when she attended a preparatory academy in Manhattan. This led to a scholarship and acceptance into Harvard University. There was even a movie about her called Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story.
This story is inspiring because it has the underlying belief to it that anyone can succeed despite their setbacks. If someone can go all the way from being homeless to graduating from one of the top schools in the world, you can surely succeed at what you want to do too. Her life struggle and the belief about success that comes with it brings hope to those who hear about it.
Be Uplifting and Empowering
This story also points out something else you need in order to be inspirational. Your message needs to be positive and uplifting so it leaves the person feeling better than before. If you stress a more negative belief than you are just being a downer. Think back to the things you find inspirational and try and find ones that are negative. My guess is you won’t be able to find any.
The belief you pass on to others has to be something they find personally empowering. It has to be a belief that makes them feel as if they can overcome an obstacle or make their life better somehow. Finding something inspirational means making other people feel better about themselves simply because you gave them something positive to believe in.
Articulate your vision
Now that you have an empowering, purposeful belief to share, it’s important for you to properly articulate it. You need to come up with a way to package it up into a story or message that people can easily understand. The delivery of your inspiring belief is just as important as the belief itself.
You have to package that belief into a purposeful message. For example, a common inspirational belief is to say nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. If I were to just say it like that, the inspirational impact behind it doesn’t mean much. After all, they’re just words.
You have to tell a story with the empowering belief as the central theme. It doesn’t even have to be about you, it can be about someone you know or heard about. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t even need to be real. Many works of fiction have become very inspirational to many people.
Now that you know how it works, you’ll find it much easier to become inspirational to others. You’ll find that adding a little inspiration to your stories will give them more impact on your audience. Being able to communicate with someone’s spirit is just as useful and powerful as it sounds.
Who or what inspires you? How do you define inspirational?
photo credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com)