Speak to inspire: Think perform, not inform

speak to inspireIf you want to speak to inspire people then take a tip from the pioneering management guru Charles Handy who once said, “If you want to be successful in business think theatre.”


My driving passion in work I do is the evidence-based belief that the world of theatre offers elegant and critical lessons for business leaders, teams and organisations. What are these lessons? There are many but today we’ll start with communication.


Great performers inspire us because they connect to their words with their voice, body, belief, energy and commitment. They care about communicating. They inspire us because they are authentic, fresh, and they connect to their audience with humanity. They inspire us because they are inspired.


Whether on the stage or in a movie performers practice and prepare. You wouldn’t get in a car and drive for miles without knowing your destination, and speaking to inspire requires the same commitment. One reason performers practice and prepare is so that they can perform at their best in the moment, even when it comes to ad-libbing. Did you know that comedians don’t always spontaneously come up with great lines on the spot? The trick is to make it appear as if it is made up on the spot. This is what sets the great performers, comedians and orators apart from the rest, the ability to deliver material in a way that looks spontaneous. And the great news is that this is a skill that can be learned.


The other thing that great performers want to do is connect with their audience: they want to make something happen, make them feel something, deliver something of value and meaning. They connect to their words with their voice, body, belief, energy and commitment and this in turn creates a connection with their audience and makes the performance believable.


They care about communicating. And when you care about your communication great things can happen, that’s when:

  • You connect with your customers and build relationships more effectively
  • Your team feels motivated and empowered
  • Talented people in the organisation’s pipeline raise their visibility
  • You can climb out of your default zone and recharge your presentations when they’ve become “stale, flat and unprofitable”
  • Your team can unlock more creativity, recharge the vision and reinvest in the messages.


Four tips so you can speak to inspire

When it comes to your own performance, what can you do to speak and present your ideas in a way that inspires people to take action? Here are four tips for you:

  1. Be passionate about your subject – science shows that you cannot inspire people unless you are inspired yourself.
  2. Use the rule of three – less is more so distill your ideas, the more you add in the more people forget.
  3. Be open, authentic and honest – if you pretend to be someone you’re not you’ll fail to gain people’s trust.
  4. Rehearse – Rehearse aloud, not in your head, as this keeps you from investing in your voice!



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