Like many Americans, I LOVE American Idol. I hardly watch TV at all, but I do watch this show, and it’s not surprising why: I love good music of all kinds. I get inspired watching young, hungry, gutsy kids work their behinds off in the pursuit of their dreams, and it’s exciting to watch them get better and better every week. I like that this is one show entire families can enjoy together and one that appeals to all ages and musical cultures. In my family, we find our favorites early-on each season, and the friendly dinner table competition begins! We dance around and sing right along with the contestants, celebrating their brilliant moments and suffering through their mistakes and sometimes well-deserved criticism from the judges. By the time the season finale rolls around, the battle lines have been drawn for the Super Bowl of the entertainment world as we ruthlessly cheer and vote for our favorites. What fun!
And it seems every year, at some point, one of the judges will say something that makes me jump up and run to my computer to share in an upcoming MMS. A few years ago, it came from my favorite guitar slayer and country music crooner, Keith Urban. As they were down to the top three contestants, Keith told one of the front-runners that he appreciated how much fun he had on stage as well as his overall musical talent, but he warned, “Don’t be so much of a showman that you forget I want to be touched and moved and believe you as you sing that song. In other words, don’t impress me; inspire me.”
Don’t impress me. Inspire Me. There’s a big difference. I teach a lot of communication skills and techniques as well as encourage strong shows of confidence and conviction and these tips are pretty much the same whether I’m coaching healthcare professionals, corporate executives, or speakers and trainers. But one caution I always give is be careful of arrogance, finger-wagging and working too hard to “impress” your audience. The most persuasive and powerful communication is one that provides great clarity about your subject and even greater hope and inspiration. Those come from staying connected to your core beliefs and purpose; a neutral, non-judgmental, and optimistic position; and your most authentic self and message.
Don’t try to impress your patients, clients, or audience with how much you know, how well you can deliver it, or how skilled you are at PowerPoint. Inspire them with how your service, information, or product will help them get more of what they want, be easier than they thought and help to elevate the quality of their life.
Don’t impress me. Inspire me.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
~John Quincy Adams