Information vs. Motivation: Communicate to Influence instead of Inform

Becoming a powerful communicator doesn’t mean changing who you are.  It means becoming more of who you are… and that takes work on both sides of the communication coin – what you say – and how you say it.

If you’ve done any sort of style-based work on your speaking or presenting skills – addressing the “how you say it” – you know most gains happen in your gut and your chest.  That’s where rock-star communicators are born.  It’s when you reach a level of comfort with yourself that you free energy up to focus on others.  That kind of real behavioral change profoundly affects your ability to connect with others through real communication.

The goal is the same on the “what you say” side of the coin – moving beyond just talking to someone, or worse “at” them, to actually connecting… using both your content and your style to influence another person.

So how do you improve on the content side?  How do you make the shift from informational to motivational communication?

We’ve gotten so good at managing data and information that we’ve grown lazy in our communication.  We think that understanding something means caring about it.  We tend to simply dump information on each other all day, every day.  And that’s where we have to change. In formal presentations, most of us know we have too many slides with too much on each one. EVERY one of us, EVERY time we communicate – or present – is looking to change someone’s position on something. That’s what communication is… it’s our ONLY way of influencing the world around us.

The concept is simple – you have to deliver more than data and information if you want someone to change.  Scrap all the data-driven slides and start giving people a reason – drawn from their world – to want the same thing you do. So, the first step in making the change from information to motivation is… getting rid of the slides.  Sure, it’s where you live – you have to have a deck (or at least you think you do) but don’t mistake the deck for your content.  It’s not.

Your content is WHAT you communicate – verbally, visually, or both… and if you work on that content and your visuals at the same time – as most of us do – you end up making what should be strategic, listener driven decisions based on visual criteria and that will sink you every time. Set the visuals aside and come back to them only after you’ve got content that will actually move someone.

So if we don’t start with the deck – where do we start?

You’ve got to revert from old habits that are getting in the way. We have a simple, disciplined approach – built on deeper thinking about the results you’re trying to achieve and the people you are talking to…  Once you can make the shift from simply giving people information as a presenter, to actually motivating them to action… it’s possible to move them to any position you choose – and that is a very powerful place to be.

Instead of thinking about what you want to say – begin thinking more about what THEY need to hear – in order to do what you want them to do. Stay results oriented by communicating from your listener’s point of view (without losing your own) and roll your content out so it drives minute-to-minute engagement.  Be clear on WHAT you’re driving at (the information and what you want them to do with it), but focus much more on WHY they should do that.

Most important: Save the visuals for last, and focus on those few keys to motivational content and you’ll begin to make that all-important shift… moving beyond simple information to motivation… where things really start to happen.