So you might be wondering why I’m writing a blog on how to be a motivational speaker? When I retired from my firm I knew I had a next chapter in my life. The problem, I didn’t know what that was going to be so I started making a list of options. I thought about buying a company, serving on a number for-profit boards, becoming a CFO or a CEO for a company or even starting my own company in health and fitness. The furthest thing from my mind was to become a professional motivational speaker.
As I started to think about life, I realized I was now in a position to do what I wanted. And what I wanted was flexibility. Flexibility to go visit my family and friends who are scattered all across the country. Flexibility to devote my time and energy to a number of charitable causes I’m passionate about. And flexibility to control my own schedule and to share what I’ve learned during my 30 year career in public accounting. So there you have it.
Throughout your career, you’ve always gone the extra mile to provide value that your clients just can’t find anywhere else.
You’ve learned many lessons along the way, from mentors, teachers, and, yes, your own mistakes. Lessons that could be very helpful for lots of people.
But the idea of talking to a room full of strangers makes your blood pressure spike just thinking about it. Motivational speaking, you think, is for someone smarter, cooler, or better-looking than you.
How could you possibly hold anyone’s attention? Motivate some random person to change their lives for the better?
Four Reasons to Pursue Motivational Speaking
A few years ago, Forbes published the ironically-titled article, “There’s No Such Thing as a Motivational Speaker.”
Author Nick Morgan, a communication expert and public speaking coach, explains that speaking is not a profession, but rather “a way to communicate your passion about a subject upon which you’re an expert.”
Here are four reasons why you might consider adding “motivational speaker” to your resume:
#1: There Are People Who Would Benefit from Your Message
Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your audience.
What types of folks would get something positive out of your story?
- A group of aspiring entrepreneurs might appreciate your words of wisdom if you’ve launched a successful business of your own.
- People trying to improve their health might want to hear from you if you’re a nutritionist or personal trainer.
- If you’ve overcome a significant personal struggle, your experiences could help others facing similar challenges in life.
The best motivational speakers know how to tailor their messages for the needs of specific audiences.
Your core topic may be the same, but your delivery should vary so that it’s relatable to the audience, whether you’re speaking to CEOs or a gathering of college students.
#2: You Are Passionate about Your Message
If you don’t really care about your topic, why should anybody else?
According to the Forbes article cited above, public speaking is “a way to communicate your passion about a subject on which you’re an expert.”
Remember, you can’t fake passion. If you sound ho-hum while delivering your presentation, you can expect a ho-hum response.
But when you’re genuinely excited about your topic, your audience will get excited, and they’ll be motivated to take positive action.
Passion is contagious. I have learned, through my own experience, that it’s the fuel that drives you to success at whatever you do.
#3: You Have Specialized Expertise
Many motivational speakers focus on a particular topic, industry, or audience.
- If your passion is helping young people develop good life skills, you might speak at schools, youth organizations, and summer camps.
- You might focus on motivating service professionals to make more effective strategic decisions.
- Or you might specialize in showing people how to manage their money wisely.
Public speaking expert Lisa Marshall says not to focus on becoming a speaker. Instead, focus on building and continuously updating your subject matter expertise.
#4: You Have a One-of-a-Kind Perspective
Rene Godefroy was born in a poor village in Haiti, and moved to the United States at the age of 21 with just $5 to his name and unable to speak English.
He worked as a janitor and later a hotel doorman, but Rene knew that someday his story could inspire and motivate others. So he invested the money he made and countless hours honing his speaking skills. Today he is an author, coach, and speaker at corporate events.
What’s your story? What experiences — good and bad — have led you to where you are today?
Audiences care about authenticity. They want to hear from someone “real” with an inspiring story or stimulating idea to share.
Your uniqueness goes a long way toward making you a compelling speaker. No one else has walked in your shoes but you. That alone gives you a fresh take on your subject — and it inspires others to overcome the obstacles they face in their own efforts to achieve their goals.
So you’ve got your compelling story and a passion for sharing it with others. What’s the next step? Here are some pointers to help you get started if you think motivational speaking is for you:
- Polish your expertise, message, and delivery. As noted above, be ready to customize your message for different audiences.
- Network, network, network to find motivational speaking opportunities. Starting with people you already know, build leads through in-person contact and through your online presence. Submit proposals to conferences or other events where you think your presentation would be a good fit.
- Build your online presence. Have a professional-looking website and social media pages, so that event organizers can get a feel for your message and delivery style. That will help them decide whether you are the right speaker for their events. Distributing an email newsletter and publishing a blog are also good ways to share your expertise.
If you’ve got passion and expertise on an interesting topic, and you’ve got a fresh story to share, consider motivational speaking as a way to inspire others to achieve their goals while enhancing your own career.
On January 1, 2016 I launched my motivational speaking career. My goal was to start slow, tighten my message as I spoke to groups. I had a goal to book ten engagements. Here we are less than one year later and I’ve surpassed my goal for 2016 and continue to book additional engagements into 2017.
As I’ve said earlier, you can Thrive by helping others Thrive — and not Just Survive!