How to Motivate Like a Superhero
WARNING: Sharí Alexander is unabashedly a geek. A super-geeky moment is approaching.
In X-Men (told ya), Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) has the mutation of emitting an deadly “optic blast” from his eyes. Cyclops doesn’t have control over his optic blasts. If he opens his eyes, he unintentionally can do a lot of damage to his surroundings and the people around him.
That is, unless he wears his visor or protective sunglasses.
His eyewear filters out the destructive blast so that he can use his powers at will. He can pick a target rather than destroying everything around him, making him and his powers much more functional.
When I am in the middle of an ill-prepared meeting or presentation, I think of Cyclops.
When someone has a message, but it’s not clearly defined and they don’t have a specific target or outcome, they end up doing more damage than good.
Clear intention and focus is critical for any successful presentation. (click here to tweet that)
I recently was approached by a media company who wanted my business. I was curious about their approach to marketing and booked a phone appointment with their CEO. Cutting past some of the chit chat, I asked him what his company does exactly.
Normally, at this moment, I would cut to some dialogue. He said this. I said that. But, I am unable to do so because I, for the life of me, can’t relay to you what the man said exactly.
Do they create YouTube videos? Do they run Facebook campaigns? Do they build your following? Do they send out press releases? I remember him mentioning some of these things, but his descriptions were all over the place. I hung up the phone utterly confused … and without purchasing anything. If only he had his message-focusing glasses on.
I distinctly remember him using the word “specialize” abundantly. “We specialize in X.” “We specialize in Y.” “Our specialty is X,Y, and Z.”
If you specialize in everything, then you specialize in nothing. (click here to tweet that)
The main flaw with this CEO’s presentation was that there wasn’t a clear message. What do you do? How can it benefit me? Why should I hire you? Each of these questions prompted rambling sentences with starts and stops that make it too difficult to follow.
It is inconsiderate to force your listener to mine through your rocky words to find the gems they need. (Click to Tweet that bit of awesomeness)
To find your message’s focus, one of my favorite strategies is to ask myself 3 questions about my audience in relation to my message:How do I want them to think? How do i want them to feel? How do I want them to act?
Sometimes my message will focus in using aspects of all three answers. Sometimes the message is focused on just one.
With the answers from these questions, you can determine your presentation approach.
In order to change someone’s thought process or, in other words, enlighten them to new ideas, you must first acknowledge and address their current perspective. “I understand that this has probably worked for you in the past. This perspective has gotten you this far.”
Don’t knock their current processes. That will initiate a defensive reaction which creates a new obstacle you’ll have to overcome.
Acknowledge their current way of thinking – their reality – and show appreciation for it, then demonstrate how it can dovetail into your proposed ideas.
Emotions are ridiculously powerful. Crafting a message around your audience’s emotional state is like Love Potion #9 for killer presentations.
I find it helpful to create a map of the audience’s emotional journey.
#1 When they walk into the room, what state will they be in? Stressed? Tired? Frustrated? Excited? Skeptical?
#2 What is the emotional state I want them to be in at the end of the presentation? Motivated? Happy? Hopeful?
Now, how do you get them from Emotion #1 to Emotion #2?
It is highly unlikely that it will be a direct path. You need to lead them down a few twists and turns for them to arrive at your desired destination.
Let’s say they walk into the presentation stressed and you want them to walk away feeling inspired. My map might look something like this:
Stressed –> Present (anchor them in the moment) –> Laughing (use some humor) –> Sympathetic (use a touching story) –> Inspired (story with a happy ending and a goal to reach for)
This is a quick breakdown of how I might approach the presentation. Did you notice how being aware of the intended emotion helped me determine components of my presentation?
Pretty cool, eh?
This one is a little sneaky.
Human behavior is determined by our thoughts and emotions. So, if you want your audience to ACT differently, you are going to have to answer the THINK and FEEL questions first.
But don’t dismiss the ACT question entirely.
When you have a clear picture of what actions you want from your audience, you are more apt to describe those actions for them. Paint a picture of what it would look like if they incorporated your ideas.
I recently interviewed master storyteller Lou Heckler. During the interview he shared that one of the greatest lessons he learned about teaching adults was that adults are not great learners, but they are wonderful mimics. When adults have a clear model to follow, they are more likely to incorporate the new behavior.
So be clear in your instructions and give your audience a role model for your proposed actions.
If this was helpful to you, I’d love it if you shared it! Click the pretty social media buttons below.
And, as always, I love reading your comments. Have you used this in your message development? Do you have other techniques? If you have any questions, ask away in the comments section below.