Kelly Decker

Craft messages that inspire

Pay attention to emotion, visual, and vocal cues.

April 18, 2019

When addressing an audience, take a moment to frame your message, make it memorable to your listeners, and spur them to take action.

“When you inspire, you move the audience reaction from ‘I have to,’ to ‘I want to,’” Kelly Decker, president of Decker Communications, Inc., said during the closing keynote address at the CUNA Human Resources & Organizational Development Council Conference Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif.

To craft inspiring messages that deliver audience-center content and establish a high emotional connection, focus on visual and vocal cues and insert emotion into your message.

Decker offers these tips on doing so:

• Boost the emotional connection. People are quick to make judgments. Focus on making small changes in your behaviors that establish trust with your audience. Pay attention to your eye communication, posture and movements, gestures and expressions, voice and vocal variety, and language and pausing.

“These skills are just habits. These are all skills you can learn,” Decker says. “Understand what your habits are and just start by tweaking one or two.”

• Move from self-centered to audience-centered. Often, we feel the need to prove ourselves and our messages end up being a message about ourselves and not a message that resonates with our audience, Decker says. Use a four-step framework to craft a message that your audience will find important:

  1. Make it about them. Know who your listener is. Who are they? Why are they listening? How can you help them? How do they feel about the subject?
  2. Find the lead of your story. Identify the point of view. “This is the single phrase that you want your listeners to hear that will change how they think or act about the topic.”
  3. Make it concrete. Offer action steps. Give your listeners something to do once they’ve heard your message.
  4. Make them care. Why is your message important for your audience? Why does it pertain to them? Tell them specifically what’s in it for them.

• Be memorable. Insert emotion into your message to help motivate your audience and get their attention. Find the “sharp” objects—the stories, humor, analogies, references or quotes, and pictures or visuals, that will grab your audiences’ attention, Decker says.

“Stop informing and start inspiring,” Decker says. “Start thinking about the messages your communicating.”

Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNAJennifer@CUNA_News, @cumagazine, @CUNACouncils, and by using the #HRODCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at