I am a big fan of the carrot versus the stick. (The idea that you can get a mule to move faster if you dangle a carrot in front of his nose than if you beat him with a stick.) The carrot as motivator worked for me as a kid, worked for my own kids and works for audiences as well. Put another way, I believe in inspiration, aspiration over guilt and fear any day of the week. Here’s why.
Guilt and fear may move an audience emotionally, but I’m not convinced it will move them literally. Think about it. Too much doom and gloom just makes us feel bad, scared and hopeless. It can paralyze us; leave us feeling unable to move forward. Tell us what we can do to make something better, solve a problem, (and what the happy result will be) and we’re up and out the door on our way to ACT.
If we make our kids, or our audience, feel bad about themselves, their situation, their future, how energized are they going to be to move in the direction we want them to go? Plus, how much more will we have to “beat” them to get them there? Yuch.
I say build them up. show them what they can aspire to and why and how they can get there. Then you stand in the background and cheer them on. Remind them of the “payoff” at the finish line. How much better does everyone feel? How much farther, faster, do you think they’ll go? How much more successful will they be, and grateful to you for providing the vision and the encouragement? How much more eager will they be to partner with you in the future, knowing that you will find the light out of the darkness and lead the way?
Give them the carrot – not the stick – and you’ll be heard.