Inspiring vision, part 2: make it relevant to your audience

Audience listens attentively to a speaker

In a time of change, your ability to create an inspiring vision will draw people to your project, motivate them to stay, and inspire them to deliver results.

There is no fixed template for how to achieve this: no two visions or inspiring leaders are the same. But just as every great painting is formed from the same basic colours, and every great piece of music comes from the same basic notes, so every great vision is formed from the same seven basic building blocks, combined and arranged in different ways.

The second of these blocks is to make your vision relevant for your audience.

This is about more than just speaking in a language your audience understands or appealing to principles they believe in. As Henry Ford once said:

“Nobody at work is apathetic except those who are in pursuit of someone else’s objective.”

This building block is about getting your audience to buy in to your objective. It’s about showing them that they have an objective which overlaps with yours.

So empathise with your audience: What are they thinking about? What are they feeling? What are their hopes, fears, and priorities? Do they want a challenge? Do they want to feel heroic? Or do they simply want to feel safe?

Martin Luther King said:

“I have a dream…, I have a dream…, I have a dream…”

Winston Churchill said:

“We shall fight them…, we shall fight them…, we shall fight them… We shall never surrender.”

Both were facing in opposite directions but were appropriate for their time and for what their audiences wanted to hear.

When you talk to different groups or stakeholders, do you change your language to frame your message to come from the point of view of each audience?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By The U.S. National Archives via

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