Speaking for Motivation: Top Traits of Successful Motivational Speakers

This article will do 2 things for you:

1. Briefly talk about some common (but pretty funny) stereotypes of motivational speakers. We’ll take a look at a few real-life examples from the huge variety of motivational speakers on the circuit today.

2. Give some great tips on how to give your own motivational speeches by exploring the top 6 key ingredients that successful motivational speakers have in common.

The end goal of this article is to help empower you to create and deliver your own inspiring motivational speeches so that you can go forward and help others make positive changes in their own lives.

SPEAK IT OUT LOUD

When someone starts talking about motivational speakers, most people either:

  1. Bring up their own favourite speakers and share how said speaker(s) changed their life, or

  2. Roll their eyes and groan.

… More often than not, people do the latter.

When it comes to stereotypes, motivational speakers seem to get the blunt end of the stick. Often perceived as frantic, loud, and in-your-face, this type of public speaking commonly gets dismissed for being, well, all talk.

However, there is a very definite (and growing) fan-base for motivational presentations. After all, the words of inspiration and insight that a truly good motivational speaker shares can create the kind of “a-ha” moments that truly resonate!

Inciting positive changes for everything from kicking bad habits to pursuing your dreams and living the life you’ve imagined – quality speakers can motivate their audiences to realize the inner potential for success that lives within all of us.

The fact is that a strong motivational speaker can be a real force to be reckoned with, regardless of what your own personal opinion of them may be!

DIFFERENT SPEAKERS. DIFFERENT APPROACHES. SAME POINT.

Truly good, established motivational speakers command some pretty decent coin – Tony Robbins, for example, charges at least $100,000 per engagement.

The rationale for this is that good motivators can impact the lives of thousands in a single presentation, creating a literally exponential return on investment.

But the tactics they use to inspire are often drastically different, so how do they all end up achieving the same impact?

Let’s take a look at the very different styles of 3 top motivational speakers to figure this out.

– Tony Robbins: Energetic Motivation

Tony Robbins’ high-energy, high-volume, and high-audience participation presentations have inspired millions to pursue their dreams. He literally gets attendees out of their seats, hyped up and boldly yelling out affirmational mantras of success together.

The end result is a crowd of inspired go-getters who are ready to “ask better questions, and as a result get better answers” – answers that will (hopefully) help them navigate the path to success and happiness.

– Dr. Roberta Bondar: Intelligent Inspiration

Other speakers, like the amazing and super smart astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar, choose to share their motivational public speeches with more intimate audiences in specific niches and settings.

Dr. Bondar’s approach is noticeably very different to Tony Robbins’; her presence and spoken words are significantly calmer and her talks tend to keep the decibels at more ear-friendly levels. But her message consistently inspires people to pursue their “peak performance potential” as she drops pearls of wisdom and dishes out food for thought.

– Steve Rizzo: Hilariously Helpful

Yet other speakers rely on comedy to deliver their message, like the hilarious Steve Rizzo. Having walked away from his career as a comedian who shared the stage with greats like Jerry Seinfeld and Rodney Dangerfield, Steve uses his sharp comedic timing to deliver messages of perseverance through adversity that inspire crowds to “live the dream.” For Steve, laughter is the best motivation.

When you boil it all down, successful motivational speakers come in all shapes and styles – but they all manage to inspire their audiences to make positive, impactful changes in their lives.

They do this by finding their own presentational style and playing to it. In figuring out what works best for them and using it to their advantage, they successfully add an air of authenticity to their talks. And this authenticity is crucial.

After all, nobody wants to listen to someone who doesn’t earnestly, 1000% believe in what they’re preaching!

Like top motivational speaker booking agent, Rich Libner of MCP Speakers, says when talking about his own roster of speakers on the circuit,

“It’s important to remember that motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, Roberta Bondar, or Steve Rizzo are not much different from the rest of us. They all have fears, failures, difficulties, and dirty dishes.”

So if they can speak to and inspire crowds of people, then you can too!

WHAT TO SAY AND HOW TO SAY IT

Believe it or not, there is a basic recipe for creating and delivering a successful motivational speech.

No matter if you decide to use the over-the-top energetic approach of Mr. Robbins or the comedic delivery of Steve Rizzo, following these key ingredients will help you on your path to motivational speaking success.

  1. Tell a good story, and tell it well.

Our evolutionary history has predisposed us to loving a good story.

Consider this: Every known culture in human history has stories. From sitting by a fire and listening as elders tell stories of gods & monsters to buying a movie ticket and immersing ourselves in some epic cinematic experience – we, as a species, absolutely love a good story. We always have.

Tap into this love to get and keep your audience’s attention. A good story uses a recognizable pattern to convey meaning, with the most common pattern being the classic failure-epiphany-struggle-success plot…

Know it. Love it. Use it.

  1. Be clear with what you’re talking about.

Nobody likes to hear someone yammer on with no easy-to-spot point. Much like Charlie Brown’s teacher, public speakers that drone on with no clear intent or purpose quickly lose their audience’s attention and become background noise.

Keep it snappy and on-point. Let your audience know within the first 2 minutes why you’re talking to them and what you’re talking about. After that, make sure that every anecdote, story, and tip you tell directly relates back to your purpose for being there.

In other words, give them a roadmap for what to expect from your presentation – and stick to it!

  1. Create your own buy-in.

Picking up on point number 2, a good way of creating your own buy-in is to let your audience know what to expect from the get-go. Tony Robbins is a master of this, often starting his speaking presentations with the following formula:

Today, I will talk to you about _______. I’m talking to you about it because ________. My goal at the end is to motivate you to ________ so that you can ________. [-> Enter engaging but simple question to cap your intro and spur audience participation here.]

You don’t have to copy that exact formula, but hopefully you get the idea.

After setting out your roadmap, one of the best ways of further fostering audience buy-in is by encouraging participation. There are more ways to encourage audience interaction than this article can list, but a key point is to make sure that the participation is guided and relevant (and safe!)

For ideas on ways to foster positive audience participation, just Google “audience participation”.

  1. Stay positive.

The #1 very best way to alienate your audience is by being a downer. This includes singling out someone to pick on throughout your presentation, relating horrible things that happened to people without providing a positive spin or ending, and generally being a low-energy Debbie downer.

The key to motivation – especially motivational speaking – is to stay positive. People are paying attention to you because they’re after some sort of positive change, so stay positive with your motivational messaging!

  1. Offer a different way of looking at things.

A fundamental ingredient to creating positive change is to alter the way you look at things.

Like famous motivational speaker Wayne Dyer once said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

… Pretty deep, right?

It’s also 100% true. Psychologists and marketers alike have known for decades that the biggest way to effect positive change is foster a positive perspective. From addiction treatments to brand allegiance, the power of altering a person’s perspective is undeniable.

Inspire your audience to look at things differently by sharing a different (and positive) lens through which to view life’s challenges and hardships.

  1. Practice. Practice. Practice.

… Then practice some more.

Polished motivational speeches don’t happen overnight and even top-notch motivational pros still flub every-so-often. Practice makes perfect though, so practice for perfection!

MOTIVATING SUSTAINED MOTIVATION

In the end, the most motivational part of any inspirational speech is what the audience chooses to do with what they’ve just heard. So help them make the right choice by using the above 6 tips the next time you decide to get up and speak sweet words of inspiration!



Source of Speaking for Motivation: Top Traits of Successful Motivational Speakers by Elizabeth McKeown – author of Speaking for Motivation: Top Traits of Successful Motivational Speakers article

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