There’s No Such Thing as a Motivational Speaker

A friend sent this funny video dispelling the myths of motivational speakers.  It has a good time poking fun at the occupational hazards of the job.  But let me take the idea here one step further.  There is no such thing as the job category, “Motivational Speaker.”  At least, there shouldn’t be, and you shouldn’t think of yourself as one, or even aspire to become one. 

Why, you say?  What’s wrong with wanting to become a motivational speaker?  Don’t they make tons of money?  Travel the world?  Get to stay in swanky hotels and meet interesting people? 

No, no, no.  That’s the wrong way to think about it.  Speaking is not a profession.  It’s an activity.  It’s a way to communicate your passion about a subject upon which you’re expert. 

I put it this way, because the passion has to come first.  The reason people will hire you to speak, and pay you lots of money, if you’re very, very good, and very, very well known, and send you around the world, and put you up in swanky hotels, is that you have something unique to say.  Something absolutely fascinating.  Something that no one else can put quite the way you can – and that propels audiences to do something different as a result. 

Maybe you can show people how to reach goals they think are impossible.  Maybe you can explain how the new economy works better than anyone else, guiding companies to succeed with innovative products and services.  Maybe you understand creativity and can share that understanding with teams, helping them become less stuck. 

So begin with the idea, the passion, the craft, the expertise.  Then write your book, give your free speeches, create your community, launch your blog, and create your platform of fans and fellow believers.  Once you’ve got all that down, the invitations to speak for money will come, and so will the rest of it.  But speaking itself is not a profession.  Yes, it’s a craft.  Yes, it’s hard to do well.  Yes, you can always learn to get better at it.  But focus on the passion that got you there and keep that alive, and you will indeed be a motivational speaker, not to mention colleague, worker, expert, thinker, writer, and friend. 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks to Jay, Dale, Gregory, and John for your great comments. Clearly, the blog touched a nerve. Glad to see other people are fighting against the idea of ‘motivational speakers’!

  2. says

    This totally rocks!!!! I have been an “Informational Speaker” for nearly 19 years, I cringe when people call me a motivational speaker — thanks for setting the record straight!!

  3. Gregory Barros says

    Motivation comes from within.
    Inspiration, the main ingredient of motivation, comes from within or without.
    We inspire individuals among our selected communities through our practice in the art, craft and science of persuasion.
    In my ledger, I can’t really “motivate” individuals, cause them to take action; without coercion (implied, threatened or executed), however subtle its implementation.

  4. says

    Motivational speakers are very good actors. You will forget everything they said, but you will remember the performance.
    The important thing to work on is to develop a habit. That is hard.

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