How to Become a Motivational Speaker

Want to inspire people to reach their full potential? You might want to consider this career.

Illustration of a female motivational speaker delivering a speech to an audience

Talk about a motivating story…

In 2015, psychotherapist Amy Morin’s life changed forever. She penned an article titled ‘13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do’. It was read by millions of people all over the world, and she received invitations for numerous speaking engagements across the globe.

All it takes is one event to transform your existence.

One day, you could be in the same boat, whether you want to or not. You could have written a stupendous piece about what it takes to survive Silicon Valley. Or you could have been interviewed by a reporter who then shared your story about helping orphaned children that was perused by many influential people.

Either way, you could make a living just being an inspiration to so many, even if you never planned to.

But are you interested in learning how to become a motivational speaker?

1. Live by your words

If someone lectures you on infidelity, though they are cheating on their significant other, the person listening will not take the advice. People do not take kindly to hypocrisy, especially when they are confronted with conflicting emotions.

The same applies to motivational speaking. It is important for the public speaker to live by the words that they preach. So, if you’re telling the audience to always keep their chin up, learn the lessons from failure and try to be as positive as possible, but you do the exact opposite of these recommendations, then nobody will care what you have to say.

Being a hypocrite doesn’t mean that the advice is wrong, but the chances of the listener heeding your guidance diminish.

Moreover, it would be helpful that you have a motivating story, too. If you’re a naturally gifted person who can overcome any challenge, you were born into a wealthy family or you lived a hebetudinous existence, then what could you possibly tell anybody about steps to improve their lives?

2. Develop your communication skills

Suffice it to say, communication is your bread and butter, so you want to improve upon this skill. Sure, everyone can communicate – verbally and physically. But some professions demand people who are raconteurs, individuals who can tell the blandest story in an engaging and humorous way. Positivity is also key in communication; who wants to hear someone coach attendees in the most boring and monotonous tone?

You want to concentrate on adopting these tips:

  • maintain eye contact with each member of the audience in the first few rows
  • face your audience and stand with enough space between feet and hips
  • move around the stage; don’t act like you have been hammered into a spot on the floor
  • add some of your personal styles to your talk
  • look like you are enjoying communicating with the public

One more thing: adopt the five Ps:

  • pace
  • pause
  • pitch
  • projection
  • pronunciation

3. Enrol in a public speaking course

A wise investment in this career path is to enrol in a public speaking course. Even if you’re confident in addressing a crowd, it’s still a great tool at your disposal because there are many things you can learn about effectively delivering your message to either a small group of people or an auditorium.

Here are four public speaking tips that a coach or an instructor will teach:

  • speech structure: whether you’re presenting a historical subject or persuading an audience to buy into your idea, there are many ways to structure your speech – chronologically, unbiased evidence or demonstration
  • body language: there are so many little things that can convey a whole host of things; ultimately, you will learn of the finer points, such as avoiding crossing your arms, using physical gestures and raising your speech volume
  • how to: nobody wants to be lectured, but they are interested in being sold something; you will learn about using the five Ws to outline your speech (who, what, where, when and why)
  • storytelling: storytelling is the most effective way to engage an audience because you are talking with the people and sharing a clever yarn or a fascinating tale; it is an art form, but a successful teacher can show you the way

Will you be taught about confidence, too? Well, not to sound like Lao Tzu or some other ancient Chinese guru, the confidence is already inside of you – you just need to tap into it by using a combination of methods, from preparation to acumen.

4. Create new ideas

In a world stuffed with astronomical amounts of content, every subject under the sun has been discussed ad nauseum. Should this serve as a deterrent? Not in the slightest.

There are two ways to navigate this common problem for content creators:

  • try to come up with new ideas, unique to your life
  • put a different spin on prevalent concepts

Remember: there is no one else like you. So, by applying your brand to a concept – new or old – you will not be going over territory the same way hundreds of others have over the years. You show that you are a leader.

5. Practise effective techniques

As they say, practice makes perfect.

Like a baseball pitcher trying to master a slider or a basketball player attempting to perfect a free throw shot, a motivational speaker needs to ensure that they are employing effective techniques that make for interesting speeches. By practising and honing your game, you can make improvements or adjust your strategy.

Here are three tips to add to your regimen:

  • talk to a mirror and perform exactly how you would on stage
  • record yourself on camera and then watch the footage
  • invite a couple of friends over and gauge their opinions

Remember: you might have a gut feeling that something isn’t working. If so, experiment.

6. Study other motivational speakers

There’s no harm in learning from the best. And as the saying goes: ‘Don’t steal. But if you do, steal from the best’. You would not want to study someone who bombed on stage unless it is to learn from their mistakes. Therefore, it would be prudent to head over to YouTube and watch a series of TED Talks.

If you do find someone who intrigues you, then search for other speeches that they delivered. Then you can see how exactly this speaker is reeling you in with their words, gestures and appeal. A figure to emulate is one of the best forms of encouragement.

You can also listen to a variety of podcasts that grapple with the subject, and you can read blogs published by professional motivational speakers.

7. Write and edit your content

Do you think motivational speakers just wing it on stage? There are probably a couple of anomalies, but 99% have content written in advance. This ensures that they stay on point, know what to share and how much time they have in speaking.

You should structure your speech with a beginning, a middle and an end. It needs to be easy to follow and engaging, something that will grab the attention of viewers, whether it is a surprising statistic or a hilarious but insightful anecdote.

It cannot be stated enough that you must time yourself. For instance, if you’re allotted 20 minutes, give yourself 15 so that you don’t go into overtime. This is only acceptable if you are someone big, like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Will Smith.

Sorry, Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo. You only have seven minutes – make it count!

8. Test yourself online

Let’s be honest: the internet can be a savage and cruel place. This online ecosystem is made up of trolls, keyboard warriors and overall bad people. If they hate you, they will tell you so. If they think your content stinks, they will be sure to send you death threats.

So, what better place to test your skills?

By opening a YouTube account and uploading a video of a speech of yours – either one that is directly recorded from your webcam or one that was filmed on location – you garner public feedback. If you wish for the brutal truth, then this is the best way to get it. Nobody on the internet cares about your feelings.

9. Offer to speak for free

After enrolling in classes, writing superb content and testing out your craft, it might be time to see if you have the goods. But how? Speak in public.

Indeed, a diverse array of organisations are always looking for someone to speak to a group of kids, the workforce or young professionals about the ins and outs of life, whether it is professionally or personally. Because you’re a novice, you will likely be unable to command a feed. But there is one way around this: offer to speak for free.

This is an effective method because you can attain feedback in real-time by monitoring the audience and scanning emotions – boredom, laughter, intrigue, and so on.

10. Publish a blog

Lastly, now it’s all about marketing yourself. You don’t necessarily need to launch an expensive digital marketing campaign, but you can begin to get your name out there, as long as you are ready to embark upon this new career.

It starts by publishing a blog, which should contain the following:

  • your background
  • past videos
  • articles
  • testimonials
  • media coverage

Yes, it will take time to witness a noticeable uptick in numbers. Over time, however, you will see a bump in clicks. Eventually, with enough publicity, you will generate huge traffic, something that you can leverage and monetise by selling books or advertising your podcast.

Learning how to become a motivational speaker is just the first step in this long journey. There are many factors that you need to consider. But the most important things are that you be authentic and physical.

It’s easy to write about what people should do, and it’s easy to even go on a podcast and talk about positivity. People are visual creatures; they need to see you in person to get the message. It could be a gamble putting yourself in the public eye, but if you have a story to tell that could generate inspiration, then go for it.

Are you thinking about becoming a motivational speaker? What inspired you to do so? Let us know in the comments section below.