5 Ways to Channel Your Inner Tony Robbins

Imagine you’re sitting in a meeting with your boss and some other company bigwigs, and they’ve decided on a new strategy or process that is going to mean some people may lose their jobs, while others will be working harder trying to get things up to speed.

“Holy crap,” you think. “Wonder how they’re going to sell that message.”

Guess what? They’re not going to sell anything. It’s going to be you that is held responsible for getting the staff to buy in and commit 100 percent to the new ideas.

Of course, you won’t be all alone in this challenge. The bigwigs will make a couple of video or personal appearances to speak to workers directly about the changes – and then they will leave.

Now you’re all alone. It’s just you and a bunch of upset, angry or bewildered employees.

While your first inclination may be to schedule a long, long vacation, the truth is that a lot of people are depending on you right now. Whether you’re a team leader or a manager, you’re the one responsible for getting employees motivated, for giving the kind of speech that would make Tony Robbins weep with envy.

Successful motivational speakers have certain elements in their speeches that you can incorporate into your talks with employees. Whether you’re trying to motivate others to improve their sales or stay engaged while the company is going through tough times, here are some key elements:

1. Know your audience. Before you say anything to a group, take time to visit individually with workers about their concerns or priorities. This will help you develop a more personalized approach to the group talk.

2. Engage them. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to start your talk with “Have you ever wanted to…” or “Remember when you felt…?”  You want your audience focused on the message you’re going to deliver, and appealing to them directly is a great way to accomplish that.

3. Tell stories. It’s a favorite strategy of motivational speakers to share personal stories of travails and triumphs to the audience.  Just make sure it relates to the audience – don’t tell a story of how you wrecked your Mercedes when your audience makes minimum wage and may be facing layoffs. Also, keep your stories limited to one or two so that the audience doesn’t start to think you’re only focused on yourself.

4. Go for affirmation. You want your audience agreeing with everything you say. Ask questions or make statements you know they’ll answer in the affirmative, such as: “We work hard, don’t we?” or “We hang tough!”

5. Lighten the moment. While you don’t want to crack jokes about a serious subject, you can use humor to engage your audience. You can be a bit self-deprecating or even tell an appropriate joke.

6. Stay away from the negative. When you’re trying to persuade a group, you don’t want them focused on what they can’t do, but rather on what they can do. You can follow up later with specific problems or challenges that need to be addressed, but your initial talk should be positive about upcoming changes.

If you’re still a little nervous about giving a motivational talk, read motivational quotes or speeches from professional speakers or watch them on YouTube to study their hand gestures and voice pitch. If you’re still fretting, think about these wise words from motivational guru Robbins: “The only people without problems are those in cemeteries.”

What other motivational speaking tips can you offer?

Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated columnist for Gannett/USA Today on workplace issues and the author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.” She has been on the Today show, and quoted in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self.com and BusinessWeek.com. Her website, 45things.com, is listed on the Forbes top 100 websites for women.

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