On any given day, you can take a look at my desk and see that I keep a small cocktail napkin right next to my computer. It’s orange with bright pink words that say: “I’m not a nag. I’m a motivational speaker.”
My kids, who aren’t “kids” anymore, think it’s hysterical and say “Oh my gosh, Mom. THAT IS YOU.”
These adult kids have teased me for years about how I always reference the “fighting spirit.” But guess what? It made an imprint on their lives because they all have the fighting spirit pulsing through them.
As much as I relate to this little cocktail napkin and my kids have my motivational words imprinted in their minds, I don’t like the title “motivational speaker.” It feels slippery with no substance. But to some degree, aren’t we all aspiring motivational speakers?
Are you in leadership? You’re a motivational speaker.
Are you in sales? You my friend, are a motivational speaker.
A parent? A coach? A manager? Yep. All motivational speakers.
If you aspire to influence behavior, you craft a message and you work to motivate change.
With a long career in sales, management, training, speaking and parenting – I have absorbed endless knowledge about what motivates change, closes sales and influences audiences. The key element at the core of all of this is simplicity.
For a message to cause action, it must be simple. The natural tendency is to elaborate and list as much information as we possibly can in order to make our point. This is proven to be a failing tactic. Giving too much information causes us to dilute our message and confuse or, worse, even bore our audience. Add to that, when we stack up countless benefits and don’t put our focus on one or two clear points, we risk sounding desperate and disingenuous.
Our brain responds first to emotion, but in order to retain a message, it must be easy to organize and recall. More than ever before, the human brain is managing enormous amounts of information. Thanks to our digital world, we are addicted to distractions. According to David Rock in Your Brain at Work, our prefrontal cortex (highest functioning part of the neocortex) can only manage 4 complex thoughts or ideas at once. And it’s not like we get a clear slate of brain canvas. Our audiences, prospects and friends are all managing a lot of issues, concerns and plans in their prefrontal cortex at any given moment. So, if you want your audience or your prospect or your daughter to retain your message and put it to action, your message must be simple, clear and easy to remember.
Kind of like, the fighting spirit.