Inspire to Influence

Ben and Kelly Decker, in their book Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action, show us how to take words from the realm of information to the realm of inspiration, which is what's necessary to influence people to action or change.

As they point out, especially in our current state of information overload, the only way to get heard, and be remembered, is to make your communication both audience driven and high in emotional content.

The emotions are what will inspire your audience's trust and get them to remember what you've said.

On the trust side, you need to be authentic at all times. People will be carefully watching what you do as well as what you say to see if they can trust you. If there's any disconnect between your actions and words, the words will be totally discounted and only the actions believed. Ben and Kelly also share many "behaviors of trust" that can help you, including how long to hold eye contact and how to use pausing to boost your credibility.

On the memory side, use SHARPs (stories, humor, analogies, references, and pictures and visuals) to reach your audience on an emotional level, get beyond all the noise and distractions, and help them remember what you've said. For stories, some tips to keep in mind are to start with the end in mind, make the audience care, and to make it personal.

Beyond all the interesting anecdotes and useful tips, the book wisely points out how we all communicate all the time. Regardless of our title, industry, or function, we need to influence someone. Whether we're asking our boss for a raise, a peer to support our initiative...or our son to do his homework first, if we can do this in a way that inspires our audience, then our efforts will be easier and more likely to succeed.

When was the last time a speaker inspired you? Can you determine how he did so?

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