Whether you like it or not, inspirational communication is one of the most important elements of outstanding leadership today.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert, introvert or anything in between, if you can’t communicate your vision to others in an inspiring way, your role as a leader will always be a struggle.
Think about all of the inspiring leaders you have encountered in your life. I promise you that most of them were great communicators, and some were probably even better than you realised at the time!
The thing about inspirational communication is that it’s not something that gets looked at very often or analysed in great detail in the business world. But does it affect you? Does it move you to take action? It does, 100%!
In this blog, we will talk about how leaders communicate inspirationally, provide you with some great examples of how it works, and, in typical Leadership Detectives style, send you away with some top tips on how you can implement this stuff.
What do all of the great inspiring speeches have in common?
We have a dream!
(…that once you have finished reading this, you will be a better communicator!)
Let’s think back to some of the greatest inspirational speeches of all time:
Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream!” speech.
Barack Obama’s concession speech after the 2016 US election.
Colonel Tim Collins’ “Eve-of-battle” speech.
What do they all have in common? They create conviction, passion and energy, which points us towards a very specific course of action. They leave us with a powerful, emotional feeling which motivates us.
Inspirational communication is all about creating that energy and motivation to get people to do what you want them to do and follow your lead.
Whether that be in sport, politics, war or business, your message has to be something that resonates with the people you’re talking to. We will come back to this a little later on.
What kind of person uses inspirational communication?
A lot of leaders out there will sit back and say that they aren’t the “type of person” who inspires. They aren’t that loud, bouncing-off-the-walls type who stands on stage or opens up their heart in an email.
That may not be you, and that’s fine, but every leader has to find a way of inspiring their troops.
It doesn’t matter what your personality is like or what your level is within the business; as a leader, you have to have passion for what you do and be able to somehow transfer that passion to your team and stir up their emotions.
Stirring up emotions
During his study of how leaders communicate, the Greek philosopher Aristotle found that the most effective language used was pathos, or language that creates an emotional response.
This tells us that, even way back in ancient times, the greatest leaders were those who could get an emotional response from their audience – and it’s the same today.
The leaders of today still need to fire up their employees to get the best out of them. People need to be emotionally inspired to step outside of their comfort zone and take on new challenges, and communicating inspirationally plays a big role in that.
Leaders inspire on an ongoing basis
Now, I know we mentioned great speeches earlier, but I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea here. Inspiring your team isn’t about writing a great speech once and expecting that to be enough.
Leaders need to be communicating their vision and inspiring people on an ongoing basis.
So, how can leaders not only communicate inspirationally, but do it time and time again for their teams?
Passion, belief and a clear vision
As we have already learnt, leaders need to have passion, belief and energy; but they also need to have a very clear vision in mind.
Whenever you communicate, you need to know exactly what it is you want your people to do once you have finished. Where do you want them to go? How do you want them to feel? You need to be very clear on these things in order to build up a detailed picture of the end result that really resonates with your audience.
Be true to yourself
However, as we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be that high-energy bouncy person on stage, running over the hill yelling “CHAAARGE!” As a leader, you need to develop your own style – don’t try to be someone else.
Put all the facts down and talk from your heart. It doesn’t matter whether you’re loud or less boisterous, if you’re talking from your heart, it will resonate and inspire the people around you. Just make sure your goals are aligned with your audience’s too!
Communicating inspirationally is about tonality and language, but it’s about passion, knowledge and confidence too. As long as you have a mixture of these things and are true to yourself, you don’t need to be an extrovert to inspire.
The power of stories
Another helpful tool for leaders to use when communicating is the power of stories.
A good story resonates with people, and they will remember it. If you have the right story, people don’t have to remember everything you’ve said – all they have to remember is the intent and the drive behind that story.
In our world of business, there are two types of stories. The first is a story about something that’s already happened, and the second is a story about the future. These stories paint a clear picture of what it’s going to be like once you get to where you want to go.
Some of the best leaders share their visions in stories about the future, like Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream!” speech.
Be more visual!
Even if you are writing emails to your team, try to inspire them by being more visual and more theatrical.
A study conducted by Dr Mehrabian many years ago revealed that the interpretation of a message is 7% verbal, 38% vocal and 55% visual!
So, when you think you are over the top in your communications, the odds are that you aren’t.
It might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but your message will benefit greatly from a few more visual aids! Wherever you can, try to help your audience visualise your message by being more theatrical and using images, stories and metaphors to bring it to life!
I hope that was useful! For a deeper look into how you can be more inspirational as a leader, check out our weekly podcast The Leadership Detectives.
P.S. What examples can you think of where communication has inspired you? Or maybe you have some examples of times when you felt deflated? If so, we’d love to hear from you, so please drop a comment in the box below!
We are always keen to chat with anyone about how they can improve their leadership skills, so to get in touch, feel free to reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com.
Alternatively, you can find out more about how The Leadership Detectives could help you by booking a free coaching session with us via our website.
More to come next week.