How to Be an Inspirational Communicator

by STEVE BLOOM

'Peeking Through', Argentina, El Chalten, Mt. Fitzroy

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)

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Comments

  1. I like this A LOT, “to communicate to the spirit”

    I think at times we make the mistake of confusing instruction and inspiration. Inspiring others is not telling them what to do or how to think or feel. It lies with that deeper element of “communicating to the spirit.” Everything else just lies on the surface level and doesn’t really strike deep enough.

    I think stories are the greatest source of inspiration. We can relate to them whether they are real or not. We can find applications in our own lives and find unity in our emotions.

    Have an inspiring week Steve!

    • You have an inspirational week too, Chris. You make a great point about confusing instruction and inspiration. Communicating in an inspirational way connects with people much deeper than instruction usually does. For some reason, instruction often misses communicating on that deeper level.

      I think stories are a great way to communicate in an inspirational way too. The things that inspire me most are usually movies or novels I’ve read.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Great topic! I also really love that definition “communication with spirit”. I think you made a really great point right at the beginning: when something inspires you, it uplifts you. From an energy point of view, someone or something has just influenced you to raise your vibration and take a step closer to your own spirit, or who you really are. In order to influence someone that way, you have to first raise your own vibration. In other words, in order to inspire someone, you have to first be inspired.

    Also, I think it’s important to note that you can never inspire everyone. They have to be in your vibrational vicinity in order to be uplifted by you. If someone is depressed, and you’re all bright and shiny, you’ll just annoy them. No dice. In that case, someone who is angry or frustrated would have a better chance of inspiring them.

    IMHO, the best way to uplift others is to find what inspires you and then run out and offer that up to others. Those who are a match to that, who will feel that buzz when they listen to you or read your words will find you, and you’ll never get tired of the message you’re spreading. (and then you’ll leave very lengthy comments on other people’s blogs…LOL). Ok, I’ll shut up now.

    Hugs!
    Melody

    • Melody, you make a great point that in order to inspire someone, you have to first be inspired. That really does help a lot. I know in my personal experience, the more inspired I am about something, the easier it is to inspire others. It’s not something you can easily fake.

      You’re right about how you can’t inspire everyone too. Just trying to make a depressed person feel better can often have the opposite effect. In fact, I once read that in order to uplift depressed people, you should first match their mood and slowly lift yours while bringing theirs up with it. I’ve tried it several times before with a few successes, but it isn’t an easy thing to do.

      • Hey Steve,

        Sorry, but I just have to reply to this. If you first match a depressed person’s mood, you will not be able to help them. All you’re doing is making yourself depressed. Now you’re both feeling horrible. When you’re in depression, you generally can’t see how to get out of it. And you certainly can’t help anyone else get out of it, either. I actually did a video about this: http://www.deliberateblog.com/2011/07/28/can-the-negative-thoughts-of-others-influence-us-vlog/ Check it out if you like.

        Hugs! :o)
        Melody

        • I didn’t mean that you actually become depressed so sorry if that is what you thought I meant. Making yourself depressed or feeling horrible would not help anyone. It has more to do with briefly mirroring people so you don’t annoy them and can build rapport and trust. Like I said, it’s worked for me a few times and never once made me feel horrible or worse off. I’ve used this in other instances to influence people to make certain decisions too. Of course, I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who might feel bad afterwards. To be honest, I’m not an expert on the subject and only meant it as a passing remark.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Communication with inspiration is a pet topic of mine. I like how you more or less defined inspired communication as something that reaches the souls of people.

    In Singapore, we have this Head, Heart, Hands approach to communication. I guess it can be something universal as well. Basically, it suggests to make your communication powerfully inspiring, you have to know your audience and pitch it to their learning or reception modes.

    Some people takes in information. Some people need to feel your message. Some people need to do to understand. In any form of speech or presentation, I feel that a combination of all three are necessary. For me the key is to open the heart so that the hands and the head can get involved. The heart is the gateway to the soul.

    • Jimmy, I like that communication approach. Getting to know your audience is important for so many reasons. If you know them well enough, you can do so much including being inspirational to them.

      I know what you mean about the communication approach of using the Head, Heart and Hands. I’ve learned about this in my grad classes. It’s a part of the three learning styles people use: audio, visual and kinesthetic. If you can communicate your message to all three of those levels than you can reach anyone. Knowing this stuff and being able to use it effectively can be pretty powerful.

  4. Hi Steve,
    I remember listening to Wayne Dyer when he was giving a seminar on PBS. He says that before he goes on stage that he meditates and lets his spirit speak through him.

    • That’s an interesting approach to communication. I can see how that would work. After I meditate, I feel really relaxed, focused and enlightened. That would be a great state to be in when trying to inspire others. I’ll have to try that the next time I give a speech.

  5. That is a great definition. I never thought that my blog would set out to inspire people. But that’s what it has done to some friends lately. My GF & I just started our blog to chronicle interesting moments during our travel. But our recent decision to do a career break has inspired others and it inspires us to work even harder. Great inspiration tips too.

    • Hey Gerard, I’m glad you’re inspiring people through your blog. It’s a great feeling to know that all your efforts are paying off. Keep up the good work!

  6. I think one way to become an inspirational communicator is, like the path to so many other goals, practice. For example, if you want to inspire people through writing, motivational speaking or by whatever means, the more you do it the better you’ll become. It’s interesting how we can think we know how to do something new, but then it doesn’t turn out quite right so we do it again, and again and again, only to finally achieve the result we want. I think the same would be true of learning how to inspire people.

    • You make a great point, Sabina. Like most things in life, practice is essential. Becoming an inspiring communicator is no different. It’s not something that is going to come easy, but will take time, persistence and practice. I’m sure many inspiring works took a lot of trial and error to get to. Even Martin Luther King’s famously inspirational “I Have A Dream” speech went through several drafts only for him to depart towards the end and improvise.

  7. On top of the communication, one major factor one can bank on would be his experience. Experiencing hardships and challenges first hand can easily make a person utilize them to effectively share their thoughts because it’s something close to their heart. When that happens, people can relate better because of the sincerity and the raw emotion delivered as that person shares his experience.

    • You’re right. Raw personal experiences can really be inspirational when used effectively. When you can talk about something that means a lot to you, the passion and delivery can really be exciting to hear.

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