How To Become a Motivational Speaker

By Indeed Editorial Team

July 23, 2021

Motivational speakers build successful careers from life experiences. They share their powerful messages with others who benefit from the wisdom gained by those experiences. In this article, we discuss what a motivational speaker is, why they're important, how to become one, and the skills you need to be successful. You will also learn how you can transition from having a genuine passion to becoming a professional public speaker who inspires others.

What is a motivational speaker?

A motivational speaker is a business professional who delivers speeches designed to inspire and motivate people in the audience. Also known as "inspirational speakers," these individuals are gifted in the art of persuasion. They positively present their ideas and encourage others to follow their way of thinking.

Why are motivational speakers important?

Motivational speakers are important because they help motivate people to live their best life. Those who are struggling with physical and mental health issues find comfort in listening to individuals who have overcome challenges. It gives them hope that they too can find happiness and success in life.

Related: 4 Simple Ways to Maintain Motivation for Career Success

Motivational speaker skills

The path to becoming a motivational speaker takes time and practice. Motivational speakers have certain skills that make them successful, and you may realize that your skills need a bit of refinement. As you build your experience speaking to large groups, you'll develop these top skills that motivational speakers possess:

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Confidence

  • Clear articulation

  • Engaging presentation

  • Storytelling

  • Adaptability

  • Passion

  • Authenticity

  • Empathy

  • Time management

Motivational speakers learn over time how to gauge the interest of their audience and adapt to the feedback they receive. They become more confident in their delivery and storytelling abilities, and they learn how to manage the time they're given onstage by keeping their messages concise.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Steps to become a professional motivational speaker

Becoming a motivational speaker appeals to many people who have a passion for telling their stories of success. Motivational speakers come from many different backgrounds and industries. Inspired by experiences from their personal or work lives, motivational speakers may turn a unique anecdote or idea into a full-time career.

Developing your public speaking strategy may come naturally or take some work. Experiment with different ways to deliver your message and continue to network with other professionals to build your credibility. Follow this series of steps to start your own inspirational journey:

  1. Start with a subject you know well.

  2. Develop unique content.

  3. Understand your target audience.

  4. Gauge public interest.

  5. Develop public speaking skills.

  6. Start for free.

  7. Invest in marketing.

  8. Apply for speaking gigs.

1. Start with a subject you know well

You must have a passion for the subject you wish to promote. If it's not important to you, you'll have a hard time convincing other people that it should matter to them. If you're not sure where to start, write down a list of subjects you feel strongly about and that you'd like to share with others. If you possess expert-level knowledge in the subject, it adds to your content and credibility. Chances are, you already know what you want to speak about.

2. Develop unique content

Now that you have a better idea of what you'll be speaking about, it's time to develop your content and present it in a unique way. People crave new ideas they haven't heard before, so take notice of what's already out there and think of how your version of the information best appeals to people who know little about the subject.

If you haven't already created a website tied to your role as a motivational speaker, now is the time. Engaging content entices audiences to pay attention.

3. Understand your target audience

As much as you'd like to have everyone love your message, not everyone will. Know that this is okay and expected. Focus on connecting with your most engaged audience members and create content designed to resonate with them. You'll learn a lot about your followers through engagement on social media, message boards, and other forms of correspondence like email and fan mail.

4. Gauge public interest

Make your online presence known by sharing original quotes, writing blog posts, and collaborating with influencers on social media platforms. You may consider writing an e-book or hiring a graphic designer to create a fun brand image.

Once you've tested your content online and received enough positive feedback, you'll be ready to take your message to the stage. Building your audience online helps support attendance at future speaking events.

5. Develop public speaking skills

Perhaps the most challenging part of delivering great content is doing it in a way that gets people excited. You have to find ways to tap into your audience's most heartfelt desires and convince them that listening to your message will enhance their quality of life. That's why it's so important to develop great speaking skills. Consider joining a public speaking group, hiring a mentor or taking a public speaking course to get practice with this skill.

Related: How To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (With Examples)

6. Start for free

Once you understand what it takes to be a memorable speaker, start offering free speaking engagements to local schools and organizations you think would benefit from your message. As you hone your speaking skills, people may start inquiring about your fee. Once you start booking paid events, you'll become more confident in your new career as a motivational speaker.

7. Invest in marketing

Reach more audiences with the help of a local marketing professional. Your investment will pay off as you continue to build momentum in your new career. Tell your friends, family and business contacts that you're actively booking speaking engagements. Keep writing original content and look for ways to build your reputation as an expert on the subject.

8. Apply for speaking gigs

Advertising by word of mouth is beneficial because it's free and it creates a network of connections with all the people you inform about your speaking gigs. In addition to networking, you may need to apply for time slots at conventions, conferences, workshops and other venues. Research speakers who cover subjects similar to yours and find out where they speak. Get the names of event organizers and contact speaker bureaus to help you find high-paying engagements.

Jobs similar to motivational speakers

If you enjoy speaking to others and providing encouragement, there are a variety of jobs to consider. Here are 10 jobs related to motivational speakers:

1. Motivational coach

2. Teacher

3. Client success coach

4. News anchor

5. Tour guide

6. Personal trainer

7. Spokesperson

8. Pastor

9. Speech writer

10. Actor

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