Public Narrative Part I: Motivating Language

Developing Motivating Language

Good public narratives are empowering, encouraging and inspiring. They frame problems as challenges since, by their very nature, challenges can be solved and overcome. They present us with solutions rather than barriers and articulate those solutions as being communal property—something that no one person is solely responsible for.

In order to empower, encourage or inspire, we need use motivating language. I want you to think for a second about some common demotivational emotions and their opposites listed in the chart below.

Demotivating Emotion Examples   Motivating Emotion Examples
Frustration Being overwhelmed by an obstacle. Vs Determination Being inspired by a challenge.
Indifference or Apathy Not caring about a problem. Passion Advocating for a solution.
Pessimism An inability to have hope or see possibilities. Optimism A hopeful expectation of change.
Isolation A desire to retreat and withdraw from others. Solidarity Drawing strength through community.
Self Doubt Fearing inevitable failure. Confidence Unwavering faith.

We’ve all felt the demotivating emotions on the left and we’ve all felt the motivating ones on the right. Take a second and think about a time that you felt each emotion and what that was like. Likely the demotivating emotions felt bad, paralyzing or overwhelming. The motivation emotions likely felt good like a jolt of excitement or a rush.


Odds are, whatever challenge you’re organizing around, some people in your community feel the emotions on the left when they think about that specific problem. They won’t take action with you unless they’re feeling at least some of the motivating emotions on the right. (photo via Flickr)

The job of our public narrative is to flip the problem so that instead of your audience feeling demotivated, they’re inspired motivated and pumped up. To do that, our public narratives are going to take your audience on a journey…

Learn about that journey in Part II.

  1. Learn about motivating language
  2. Learn how to structure a captivating public narrative
  3. Learn how to ask for commitments
  4. Learn how to turn our public narratives into a malleable suite of stories ideal for any situation