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I was recently listening to a talk where the presenter mentioned the importance of acknowledging the difference between inspiration and information. The ironic thing about this talk was that it was one of the most uninspiring talks that I’ve ever heard! I’m not saying that the talk was bad, but it just wasn’t inspiring. The speaker had a nice presence, tone, etc. but inspiration was definitely lacking. To be honest, other than that one phrase “inspiration vs. information” I don’t remember any other points of the talk, and I just heard it yesterday! 

But for me, that one phrase was enough to get me thinking. When I speak do I inspire or just inform? Heck, forget about when I’m presenting “professionally.” The bigger question, “Is my life inspiring or just informative?” When I meet people will they look forward to the next time our paths cross because they feel motivated, energized, and excited when they are around me? Will what I say and more importantly the witness of my life inspire someone enough to want to make real and lasting changes to live for greatness or could they just as well tune me out after a moment or two like a bad commercial? Although life gives us many opportunities to do something different and new (which I am so grateful for), one thing that we only get one shot at is our first impression. For me, that means that I need to continually remember to be my best self because he’s the guy that has the chance to inspire someone and we can all use a little of that each day. You don’t have to look too far for information, but INSPIRATION, now that’s a rarer gift that people desire and deserve! 

What are some things that you do to inspire others? I'm always looking for others to inspire me too =)

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Gary,

What a great post and I'm very interested what conversation it sparks!

I ask myself that same question: Do I inspire, or merely inform? I think an inspirational person is something like a person with charisma, or charm; it's an undefinable, un-measureable and a nebulous quality, but when you got it, you got it. When you don't, you have to develop it. I think that's what you're trying to do, that is certainly what I'm trying to do.

Now to directly answer your question, the most effective way I've found to convey inspiration is by symbolism. I use props that illustrate various aspects of motivation or inspiration

For example, I have what looks like an old book, that is actually an empty box. There's nothing in it. I explain to my audience that "This book represents your life, and YOU are the author of your life. What are you going to fill your life with? Is it going to be a classic? An epic novel? A science or social thriller? Or will your book be something bland and boring, sold for a quarter at the local thrift store or yard sale. Whatever it is, YOU decide!"

It's a way to get the audience to think at a deeper level. Audiences have said it is inspirational, and it gets them thinking, so apparently it's working.

In my photography workshops, I say "Shoot with your lens cap off!" Of course, in order to take any picture at all, you need to take the lens cap off. But imagine the lens cap being the things that hinder and restrict your creativity. If you leave the lens cap on, you are never really creative the way God made you to be. Try new things, experiment, make your photographs different. Take the lens cap off your creativity. Again, students have said they never thought of it that way before.

Thanks for the post, Gary.

Great thoughts here, Craig.  Thanks for sharing!

Craig,

I really like the ideas of how you make your talks come alive through the use of props. Very cool! I especially like the image of the empty book and asking the question, "What are you going to fill your life with?" I can hear the wheels in the minds of your audience turning right now. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

I love this. I really do. And the irony of a speaker talking about inspiration but providing none.

I know for a fact that I inspire more than inform. I did not realize it but I've been told countless times, through in-person and my writing, for years. And the fact that being myself and living my life on my terms and then sharing it with others does that, that being inspires them, then it motivates me so much more to continue doing it.

I think you inspire by being yourself, by living an example and sharing that enthusiasm and excitement with others. I don't think there is a formula or else it might just be fake. Sure, there are ways to make eye contact and smile more, etc etc but inspiration is something YOU FEEL and the other person FEELS that and they pick up on it. It comes from within. :)

Good words, Farnoosh. I think it's key that we speak on topics/issues that we are passionate about. That's a key to both inspiration and great information.

Farnoosh, my favorite part of your response is how you lay out a "circle of inspiration:" you inspire-your audience inspires you-you go on to inspire a new audience-etc.... I like what Kent added because I'm sure a big part of you starting the "circle of inspiration" is you being passionate about what you are speaking on. Great comments!

Gary,

What a GREAT post!

First, I know you didn't see me present yesterday, so I know you're not talking about me :)

Second, and more seriously, your post hits on a belief that is so core to who I am that it feels like you are spinal tapping right into my DNA. I love this line you shared: "For me, that means that I need to continually remember to be my best self because he’s the guy that has the chance to inspire someone and we can all use a little of that each day." Living your "best self"...that's living it forward in the truest since of the phrase.  What's more, "speaking it forward" isn't just about getting more gigs or making more money, it's about adding so much value to an audience and event planner that you leave them better off than when you walked in.  

Thanks for sharing, my friend. After meeting you at the Boot Camp, I can say you are the real deal. I know you inspire others!

Kent Julian
www.liveitforward.com
www.speakitforward.com

 

Kent,

I'm glad that post wasn't about you too. It might make our relationship awkward =) I really appreciate the continual reminder you give of adding value. I think it can be easy to be consumed as a speaker by focusing on "Did I get my point across?" But, "Did I add value to these people's lives?" Now those are some inspiring words to live by as a speaker. 

Thank you for the affirmation too. It means a lot. 

Thanks for the great question!

Nathan, thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I really appreciate it. I hope the question and the feedback from everyone here blesses you as much as it does me. 

Thanks for sharing these thoughts- excellent!

I present workshops and classes for young people (12 yrs old-college), before I present, I say a prayer and ask that I be a bright spot in my students' day and that I am able to remember that "it is not about me!".

I had an off class the other day- I had forgotten to pray!

"It is not about me!" There's another key thing to remember when the spot lot is on you. It can be easy to make it about you, but I love your reminder to pray. What a great way to ground yourself and be mindful that most things in life are not about us. Thanks for sharing Dawn. 

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