How to Become a Motivational Speaker


When you think of motivational speakers, you might think about self-help gurus telling you how to channel your inner child or visualize your path to success. However, motivational speakers can deliver presentations and speeches on any topic. What counts is your passion for the subject you are addressing. Become a motivational speaker by developing your message, brushing up on your public speaking skills, and promoting your speaking abilities.

Part 1
Developing Your Message and Niche

Developing Your Message and Niche on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Familiarize yourself with the works of other motivational speakers and see if there are any that resonate more with you than others. Consider the content of their speeches and the way they deliver it as you expose yourself to different motivational speakers.[1] Try watching TED Talks or Youtube videos of motivational speeches. Read books, articles, and blogs written by motivational speakers. Check out motivational podcasts.

Developing Your Message and Niche on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Try to describe the message that you want to deliver through your speaking engagements. What topic do you want to focus on? Career? Relationships? Spirituality? What is your focus within this area? Entrepreneurism? Writing? Marriage? Parenting? Christianity? Buddhism?[2] Write down as many ideas as you can think of and keep adding to your notes over time. Tip: Start a journal for your ideas that you can continue to develop over time. Carry it with you so you can always add to it on the go.

Developing Your Message and Niche on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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This will depend largely on your own experiences and qualifications, so reflect on what you bring to the table on this topic. How is what you have to say different from what other people are saying? What experiences and knowledge do you bring to the conversation that is special?[3] For example, perhaps you started your own interior design business and you hope to inspire others to do the same. Or, maybe you successfully published a book in a short amount of time and you want to pass on what you have learned to others.

Part 2
Working on Your Stage Presence and Content

Working on Your Stage Presence and Content on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Check with your local community college or see if there are any public speaking groups in your area that you can join. This will give you a chance to develop and practice your public speaking skills. You may even be able to test out some of your speeches on these audiences and ask for feedback.[4] You can also look for other opportunities to speak in front of an audience, such as offering to give a speech at a friend or family member’s wedding, attending open mic nights at a local comedy club or bar, or hosting your own weekly live stream or podcast.

Working on Your Stage Presence and Content on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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A well-organized speech will be easier for your audience to follow. Think about your speech as a story and decide what should come first, second, third, etc. Aim to open with something attention-grabbing, such as a shocking fact or an interesting anecdote.[5] For example, if you plan to give a speech on how you overcame an obstacle in your life, then start by sharing about what the obstacle was and perhaps providing a bit of context about the situation. Then, talk about how the obstacle affected you, what changed in your life, etc. Conclude by explaining in detail how you overcame the obstacle.

Working on Your Stage Presence and Content on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Once you have a well-developed speech, take some time to read through it carefully and revise what you have written. Expand on any details that seem unclear, rewrite any confusing sections, and don’t be afraid to cut out material that doesn’t work.[6] Plan ahead so you have lots of time to revise your speech before you give it for the first time. Aim to revise at least 3 times before your first speaking engagement. Tip: Time yourself when you practice your speech to ensure that it falls slightly under the allotted time. For example, if you are only allowed 30 minutes for your speech, keep your speech to 20 minutes. This will help to ensure that you don’t run over.

Part 3
Marketing Yourself

Marketing Yourself on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Having a website that includes information about your message, who you are, and how you can be reached is essential to getting work and promoting yourself. Take some time to set up a professional quality website or hire someone to create one for you. Then, share the web address with everyone you know to start promoting yourself.[7]

Marketing Yourself on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Getting your ideas out into the world will help you to build a reputation and market yourself as a public speaker. Try writing a book or making a video about your experiences or around the problem that you hope to solve with 1 of your speeches. Start a personal blog for your public speaking career and post on it a few times per week.[8] For example, if you want to give motivational speeches on starting a business, then you could write a how-to book or a series of blog posts on the subject. If you want to motivate people to improve their relationships, you could create a video series with relationship tips or answer common questions about relationships in your videos.

Marketing Yourself on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Word-of-mouth is an excellent way to promote yourself as a public speaker. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances that you are embarking on this career. Hand out your card or contact information to everyone you meet.[9] Networking events are a great way to gain contacts and start getting work via word-of-mouth. Check to see if there are any upcoming events in your area that you could attend and meet people.

Marketing Yourself on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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If there are relevant organizations in your area that hire public speakers, then contact them and offer your services. Consider what organizations might sync up with the type of public speaking you offer and focus on those organizations.[10] For example, if you overcame drug addiction and want to inspire others to do the same, you might contact local rehabilitation centers or hospitals. If you struggled in school due to a learning disability, but then found a way to overcome it and become successful, then you might contact local high schools to offer your services.

Marketing Yourself on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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There are many events that actively seek people to speak. Look into any relevant conferences, conventions, or other events in your region and apply to be a speaker.[11] These can be competitive, and you might not get paid in the beginning, but doing these types of events can help to spread your name by word-of-mouth and get you more work as a public speaker. Tip: If you can get the contact information of the person in charge of booking speakers for events, contact them directly. Send them a 3 to 4 sentence pitch for your speech and follow up by calling back a few days later if you don’t hear from them.[12]

Part 4
Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Looking professional is a great way to make a good first impression on your audience and improve your credibility before you even open your mouth! Put on a nice suit or dress to give your speech, style your hair, do your makeup (if you wear it), groom your facial hair (if you have any), and choose a nice pair of shoes that match your outfit.[13]

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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It is okay to move once in a while during your speech, but make sure that you move with purpose and stop speaking whenever you change locations. When you get to the new location, plant your feet firmly beneath your shoulders and stand tall while you are speaking.[14] Avoid swaying back and forth while you are speaking. This gives the impression of uncertainty and can be distracting to your audience.

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Think about how you might tell your story to a friend and talk to the audience in a similar way. If there is anything in your speech that might be unfamiliar or confusing, take a moment to put it into terms your audience can understand.[15] Make sure to compliment the audience on their competence, accomplishments, or anything else you know about them.

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Look for a friendly face in the audience and lock eyes with them for a few seconds. Then, scan the audience again and lock eyes with someone else. Continue to do this throughout your speech to connect with your audience.[16] Avoid looking up, down, or off in the distance. This will give the impression that you are nervous and detract from your credibility.

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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While waving your hands constantly while you are speaking can be distracting, the occasional hand gesture can add emphasis to your speech. Try raising 1 or both hands to emphasize a point once every few minutes. Keep your hands relaxed and at your sides the rest of the time.[17] Don’t put your hands in your pockets, clasp them together, or cross your arms. These are defensive postures that will make you seem nervous. Avoid fidgeting with objects, such as a microphone, water bottle, or your cell phone during the speech. This will be distracting for your audience. If you need to hold a microphone, hold it in 1 hand. Don’t pass it back and forth.

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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If you end up giving a speech to a group of people without the benefit of a microphone, you will need to speak up to compensate. It might seem like you are yelling at first, but this is better than speaking so quietly that some audience members won’t be able to hear you.[18] Take deep breaths and use your diaphragm to help you project your voice from your belly, rather than from your chest or throat.

Using Effective Techniques During Your Speeches on How to Become a Motivational Speaker

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Have a friend or family member record you while you are giving your speech. Then, watch it later and look for areas that you might improve. Ask for feedback from friends, family, or a public speaking coach as well.[19] For example, if you notice that you tend to say “um” or clear your throat a lot during a speech, then you could work on correcting this behavior. Tip: Having recordings of your speeches will also be useful for helping you find work. Prospective clients may ask to see recordings of your speeches to decide if they want to hire you.