Last updated on May 13th, 2022 at 04:24 pm
Just because you call yourself a motivational speaker, doesn’t mean you are.
I hear this term thrown around A LOT in the speaking business. Some speakers think that just because their message is important, it’s motivational. Not true.
Information and motivation are not the same things. Period.
So what is a motivational speaker? How do you know if you truly fit the bill?
When people ask me how I became a motivational speaker. I say,
“It was easy. I just typed it in on my business card and poof! I was a motivational speaker! I think tomorrow I will be a life coach.”
We laugh, but some people think that just calling themselves motivational speakers makes them motivational speakers. And yet when I watch their speech, there is nothing motivational about it.
While there is no hard and fast rule on the art of motivational speaking, let me attempt to explain it from where I sit.
What Makes Someone a Motivational Speaker:
• Motivational Speakers bring emotion, entertainment, empowerment, and encouragement.
When clients ask for a motivational speaker, they aren’t expecting to get an expert on the art of search engine optimization or a lecturer on the proper communication skills needed in leadership.
They are expecting motivation. They are expecting high energy, emotion, entertainment, and a message that moves their audience to action.
Condensing your content to an hour doesn’t mean you now qualify as a motivational keynote speaker.
• Motivational Speakers create an experience.
When the motivational speaker hits the stage, it’s not the time for the transfer of information, it’s time for people to have a magical experience. This is the kind of experience they couldn’t get from the book, from pulling the information off the internet, or by taking home a handout.
This is the kind of experience that ONLY this speaker can bring in person.
• Motivational Speakers help audiences commit to acting on the things they have learned.
Receiving the information is only half the battle. It’s in acting on what we’ve learned where the change truly happens.
Audiences don’t just need a content dump, they need the tools to apply this in their lives and get past the obstacles standing in the way of their productivity and well-being.
• Motivational Speakers make the speech about the audience.
Or at least they should. I’ve seen so many motivational speakers who think that just because they got up there and told their story, they were motivational. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. That was your story. About you. Told the same way to everybody.
Make this about me! It’s fine to tell your story, but at some point, you have to tell mine.
• Motivational Speakers lift up their audience.
There is no easier and faster way to endear yourself to an audience than to show appreciation for what they do and the difference it makes to the world. I hear very few speakers do this.
• Motivational Speakers bring hope and belief in the vision.
Audiences are desperate for hope these days – desperate for someone to come in and tell them that it’s not too late – that they can turn things around – that big things are yet to come.
Companies are desperate for employees who rally around a common vision – a vision bigger than each person.
Motivational speakers leave that audience feeling hopeful and with a renewed passion for the vision.
• Motivational Speakers put themselves on common ground with the audience.
I know that there are speakers out there who really do think they can walk on water. There are speakers who think that their role is to be above the crowd.
I think true motivation happens when your audience relates to you – when your audience feels like you have been where they are – when your audience feels like you are one of them.
• Motivational Speakers walk their talk.
I’ve seen speakers hide out backstage before they speak, and then disappear as soon as they leave the stage as if they are too good to mingle with that audience. I’ve seen speakers who were not kind, or even downright hateful to others when off stage.
I’ve seen speakers who don’t want to correspond with their audience by email or social media. They are “too busy.” I believe the true motivational speaker lives to motivate people, and that spirit of serving is evident in every aspect of their life.
I used to think it was strange that I became a motivational speaker until I looked back on my life and realized that all my life, even back to childhood, I was an encourager. I have always sought out the invisible, found the good in people, and worked really hard to help people see that they are greater than they think they are.
I don’t just motivate people who pay me. If a waiter needs motivation, I step in. If the woman at the front desk of the hotel needs a spirit lift, I step in. If a stranger calls me for words of encouragement, I am happy to give them.
Motivation isn’t a list of things to do, it’s an attitude. You either have it or you don’t.
Sometimes people call themselves motivational speakers, and their hearts are in the right place, but they haven’t structured their language and their speech to reflect that. Their words aren’t crafted to move people. Have no fear, you can work on that. As long as you have the heart to serve, you can get the words where you need to be.
In fact, maybe you should check out my keynote camp, where we will be working on our keynote masterpieces. It might just be the very thing you are looking for to create a keynote speech that motivates and empowers for years to come.
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker, published author and TV personality who is passionate about helping women harness the power of their stories to connect, influence, and get the results they dream of accomplishing. Laughing the whole way, Kelly teaches women how to master the art of connection through the power of strategic storytelling. You can find her on The Fashion Hero show airing Fall of 2017 on Amazon Prime or on her website MotivationalSpeakerKellySwanson.com.
Note: Articles by Kelly may contain affiliate links and may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link.