I was asked this question recently: What takes a storyteller from merely being a talking head to being someone who motivates, moves and inspires people?
As a person who has spoken on many stages in front of hundreds of people across all age ranges and backgrounds, I would say it comes down to 4 characteristics: The ability to connect, a good voice, fearlessness, and realness.
1) The ability to connect: You must connect with your audience. Get eye level with them. Find common ground. Whether you’re talking to a group of 14-17-year olds or middle age executives, there needs to be a common ground. Humans tend to trust someone who they can relate to and know has something valuable in common with them. When this trust beings, they start to open themselves up & allow themselves to be influenced by you. Your goal should be to make your audience feel like you’re talking specifically to them individually.
2) A good voice: Monotone doesn’t motivate people. This almost goes without saying, but if there’s no passion in your voice, people are going to fall asleep. Changing tones & emphasizing certain words and statements goes a long way. Plus, you want to incorporate body language and eye contact – these are both also ways we communicate with people.
3) Blind optimism: Notice that I didn’t say fearlessness here. A lot of people preach fearlessness, but this teaches our audience that fear is bad. I’d rather say that being optimistic is a better point of view. A good motivator doesn’t instill fearlessness in his followers, he creates blind optimism, so that no matter what the circumstance, they are positive that the future holds greater and grander thing. It’s important to transfer this optimism you feel to your audience so that they can carry that with them after your speech is over.
4) Realness: Above all, I think being real is the most important trait of any motivator. You gotta be real with people about yourself, your struggles, your challenges, your self-doubt, your obstacles, and – eventually – your successes. When people can see that you’re a real person behind all of the powerful words, they’ll buy into the message you’re trying to pass along.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts….