How to Captivate & Inspire Anyone

football_play_by_mikebaird_flickrI am not a sports fan. And when I say that I am not a sports fan, I am being polite. Really, I think something must have happened when I was a kid that traumatized me around sports because my dislike of them runs pretty… well, viscerally deep.

As fate would have it, my husband LOVES sports. I mean, the degree to which I don’t like sports is directly and equally reflected in the amount he loves them. Ask him anything about what’s happening in sports right this minute and I guarantee, he will know about it and be ready to dig in on details with you.

Imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to share your deep love of something with your wife – like at all – because she simply doesn’t care about it and shuts down at the mere mention of the topic. (I know this sounds mean, but I’m just being honest here.)

My husband is a clever man, though. And he gets me.

So, do you want to know what he does when he is so excited to share some big sports news and I am the only one around he can share it with in that moment?

He tells me a beautiful, personal story about the player. He tells me about the player’s daughter who just got out of the hospital after a life-threatening illness. Or, he tells me the story of how this player proposed to his wife.

I absolutely love human stories. I love stories about love and family and relationships and babies and courage. My clever husband knows this and so he employs this reliable captivation technique to get my attention when he wants to talk sports.

He tells me the human story, which is completely true and beautiful, and then – when tears are running down my face about this amazing player’s personal life – he tells me about this unbelievable play he just made in the game. And as he tells me this story about this player pushing his edges in the game, pummeling the defense as he leaps into the end zone (don’t analyze my sports language here – just go with me on this, ok?), I am rooting for this guy as though I’m wearing a team jersey and cheersing with my team logo beer mug.

What?! Is that me screaming at the TV during the game?!

Yes, yes it is… against all odds.

This right here, is a captivation technique. It’s a fabulous one, too. It works with anyone, as long as you know the essentials:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they care about?
  • What will delight/captivate them?

Weave all of that together into a message just for your intended listener/audience, and captivation is assured.

You see how it works now, right? My husband has answered these question about me long ago:

Who is she: She’s my wife, often the only one nearby when an incredible play is made, she doesn’t like sports (at all)

What does she care about: Love, self-expression, family, wellness, reaching our potential, courage, stories, stories, stories

What will delight/captivate her? Stories about love, self-expression, family, pushing our edges, courage…

And this precise process is what has lead to way more “sports” conversations than I probably even realize. Good conversations – ones I’ve actually enjoyed. (Which still shocks me to realize.)

Want to talk more about how to captivate and inspire others? Of course you do! Join me and Kelly Galea of Power Up Living Radio on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at Noon Eastern as we dig much deeper on this topic. I promise to give you as many of my best captivation and inspiration tools as I can possibly fit into our interview. Click here to set your reminder so you don’t miss the show!

Meantime, tell me your favorite way to captivate someone’s attention in the comments below. Or, has there been a time when you were captivated by something that surprised you? Tell us about it in the comments, please.

Thanks go to Mike Baird on Flickr for this awesome shot of some exciting looking football (now that face is evidence of some personal edge-pushing – I like it!)


  1. says

    What a powerful way to capture someone’s attention! We could all benefit from taking into account what would captive the person that we are communicating with. I am trying to relate this to my infertility clients… while I certainly DO talk about techniques to improve communication between my clients and their spouse, I have not considered this particular pearl of wisdom.

  2. says

    I am a sports fan from day one ~ it’s how I had to get into the conversations with my football coach father and athletic brothers! Though, with my dad, the conversations always led to the character of the game and those who played them. Oh, the wisdom imparted!!

  3. says

    Good Stuff! Knowing your audience, even in a relationship, is so crucial. Thank you for sharing your story and how it can apply to all of us! Makes me smile thinking of the possibilities :)

  4. says

    Thank you for a great well written timely post. I have wanted to rewrite some of my website copy to really “connect” with those who really need what we offer… And this post will truly help me resonate with my audience in a deeper more meaningful way…

  5. Michelle Barry Franco says

    I know it is, Gayle :) You taught me much about how to dig for and craft my story! I so agree about stories and kids. If I can dig up a story to explain why I don’t want them to do something in particular, it seems to go over so much better. I love seeing them riveted as I tell the story, not even really knowing I am going to end in a way that they won’t love. Yet, they often accept the lesson from the story as an answer so much easier than just a “no”. Though, sometimes they still just say, “So, can we… ?” as though I never told the story at all. Alas…

  6. Michelle Barry Franco says

    Ooh, this is exciting! This pearl of wisdom will really serve your clients, Dorothy. I just know it!

  7. Michelle Barry Franco says

    Clearly, the human stories behind the sports are part of the draw then, aren’t they – even for you who love sports? To be honest, I sort of wish I liked sports. It would make it more fun to go to the house sports parties and things we go to sometimes. Luckily, there is often a group of people in the kitchen who are less into the game. That’s where you’ll find me.

  8. Michelle Barry Franco says

    I love that it makes you smile, Tricia! There is nothing as useful as really knowing – and considering – your audience, in any communication.

  9. Michelle Barry Franco says

    I’m so happy to hear that, Kelly! I can’t wait to see what you shift in your copy. Let me know when it’s done. I’d love to check it out!

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