The art of evangelism: how to enchant your audience

Guy Kawasaki in front of a poster of Steve Jobs saying 'stay hungry, stay foolish'

Guy Kawasaki was Apple’s first full-time evangelist


‘Evangelism’ is not just any old business buzzword. In the age of social media it’s the key to persuasive communication. It’s at the heart of communications if you want to enchant your audience.

Guy Kawasaki champions evangelism in his recent article for Harvard Business Review but his experience goes way back: he worked for Steve Jobs as an evangelist for the first Apple Macintosh. For businesses and executives, he says, evangelism is more than just a product marketing strategy:

‘When you become an effective evangelist, you don’t just promote your organization – you set an example for other employees. You show that you are a passionate, engaged team member. You inspire your colleagues. And you demonstrate your leadership ability.’

Become an evangelist

Whether you’re a CEO or an intern on your first day, practising evangelism and good communication will deliver business results.

As an evangelist you demonstrate leadership skills and engagement with your work, which is key to building trust with new contacts and prospects. If you believe in your company and your product, then others will too. Genuine enthusiasm is infectious.

How to evangelise

Evangelism is about showing the world – not just your customers – how your product, service or company improves lives. A true evangelist always has the interests of others at heart.

Anyone can (and should) be an evangelist. Here are Kawasaki’s three ways to evangelise effectively:

  1. Schmoozing. Building social connections or ‘schmoozing’ is the first step to becoming an evangelist, and evangelising others. Get your message out to the right people by forming relationships within your organisation and industry. Attend events, ask questions, follow up on conversations and be generous with your attention. If done well, schmoozing will help you enchant new acquaintances and leave lasting impressions.
  1. Public speaking. Speech making is another important part of evangelism. Presenting pushes you to develop and share a coherent message about your work. To deliver a good keynote, skip the sales pitch and give your audience personalised, quality content that shows you have something valuable to say. If you’re joining a panel discussion, keep your contribution entertaining, simple and enjoyable.
  1. Social media. Schmoozing and public speaking can help you communicate to people in your circles, but social media will extend your reach by thousands. The key to social media success is simple: create, curate and share good content. Content that is informative, analytical, helpful or entertaining will be of value to your followers, and help you build a community around your message.

Social media doesn’t have to be all business, though. You can ‘make it your own’ and inject some personality into your tweets or posts, like Elon Musk and John Legere do. When you personalise your content, you make it easier for people to connect and engage with you.

[Tweet “When you become an effective evangelist you demonstrate your leadership ability – Guy Kawasaki”]

ENChant your audience today

When it comes to embracing evangelism for the first time, Kawasaki’s advice is to start small. Build your evangelism skills little by little: begin with one act of evangelism a day and then work your way up to more.

By improving communication and sharing the best of what you and your organisation do, you will get others excited about it and achieve real results. Evangelism is an art, not a science, so start today and keep practising.

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