Motivational speakers are mentors on stage. They persuade us to change the way we do things to change our results. Many are great storytellers who also use humor to keep us laughing. Some make us cry as we listen to the miserable lives they had – and make us feel good knowing that they bounced forward. And there are a few who use give us proven formula to speed up our success.
Newbies get a bottle of wine for a speech. Others get 10,000 pesos for a speech. And there are rockstars, celebrity motivational speakers who take home seven-figure fees.
Wannabes often asked me the question, how to become a motivational speaker in the Philippines. My quick answer: call yourself a motivational speaker.
And how can one be the best like x, y, and z? Build a website, stuff your notes with the words “best,” “Filipino,” “motivational,” “speaker,” and “Philippines.” SEO tactics like this create visibility, and many people readily believe the claim without question.
I wish I was joking.
If you want to become a motivational speaker, start here. Learn easy and practical ways to get started influencing people with your words.
There are many reasons why people become motivational speakers. Most want the money; some want to educate, and some are dying to save the world.
I dare say that all people who want to change our minds and make us do something are motivational speakers. But they don’t call them as such. They call themselves by various names: teachers, trainers, doctors, engineers, salesmen, business owners, market vendors, et cetera.
So, for the sake of this freewriting, I will call motivational speakers only those who claim that they are motivational speakers.
1. Know Thy Self
Know thy self and to thy self be true. Remember those times when we ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. They usually give us cute answers.
They want to become A to help B. I also get the same answer when I ask wannabes why they wish to become motivational speakers.
They wanted to help people. Cute answer.
Some more questions, and you’ll find out most of them do not know. They want to try it out. A motivational speaker on stage looks cool. They have great messages which the wannabes wish to spread to the world.
Multi-level marketing created the most number of wannabes. They want to free people from the slavery called work. They wish to help people who are broke like them to find financial freedom.
Second to MLMs are religious groups. They followed a path paved for them by prosperity preachers. They want to spread the gospel, and they wish to be as wealthy as their preachers.
Though unsaid, the money is a natural magnet for motivational speaker wannabes.
Don’t worry. You are not bad for wanting the money.
Motivational speakers who don’t want the money called themselves activists and those who desire all the money are politicians who called themselves public servants. I meant no offense to honest public servants and good politicians.
Those who want to help people and earn for doing so are called professionals.
Know thy self and to thy self be true.
2. Know Your Passion
I entered a Catholic seminary after high school. My passion was to spread and teach God’s word and save souls. I knew that to be true. Later, I found out that many seminarians join the congregation so they can get a college education. I went out after two years.
I took Political Science. I became a student leader, an activist. My passion was to fight for what’s right, to teach the greatest good, and to serve the poorest of the poor. The latter I got from my last year in the seminary. The life of Bishop Julio Labayen inspired me to serve the poorest of the poor.
Three months before I graduated from college, I applied for a high school teaching position. Three months after, a college teaching position. I want to educate people.
I can tell my history, but that’s not my point.
We gravitate towards our passion. And I believe that when you are passionate about what you do, giving your best comes naturally.
Your passion does not have to be motivational speaking to become a motivational speaker. Your passions can be technology, medicine, travel, human rights, photography, or public service — and you are too happy to share this passion with others.
3. Know Your Gifts
Many motivational speakers are, well, great speakers. Their words can mesmerize you that they can make you raise your hand, then put them down to get your wallets.
You don’t have to become a great speaker to become motivational. A good enough speaker who has a gift for storytelling, singing, dancing, painting, playing instruments, comedy, acting, or sports will find themselves a notch above other motivational speakers. Many speakers who lost body parts became famous for their talents, skills, and sheer grit.
When you use your gifts to communicate your message, you will find yourself in your best element. Use them.
Besides, you can learn how to speak well. You can know how to tell stories. You can understand what motivates people and how to motivate them.
Knowing and using your gifts will speed up the growth of your motivational speaking career.
4. Find Your Starving Crowd
If you have read my notes on the starving crowd, you know that this step is crucial to your success.
Not all people are willing to listen to you. Your message may have universal appeal, but the universe will not stop what it is doing because you appeared on the stage as a motivational speaker.
It does not matter to most people if you call yourself the first certified or registered intergalactic motivational speaker. You may get their attention – or their mockery – but they listen to you.
It does not matter whether you are the only Filipino to be a member of a global organization of speakers. Even with this accolade, people won’t pay to listen to you.
It might feed my ego when I have some of these accolades. It might help me cure my imposter syndrome. I do not know.
What I know is you don’t need any of these to become a motivational speaker. So, do not fret over not having any of these.
Direct your attention instead to finding your starving crowd. Find the people who at this very moment need to hear the message of you – or elixir you discovered that will heal them.
Some people are praying for someone like you to appear. Though at first unknown, if your message resonates with them, they’ll create a formation around you. They’ll dance to your music because it is your music they want. They’ll quote you and spread your word around. They’ll buy your products and services because they are starving.
Look around you.
Some preachers have mega-churches. These preachers attract large followers who bring others to them because their message feeds the starving crowd.
Others have churches where people come and never come back.
I am not saying that you build your mega-church. A good business, like motivational speaking, may bring you good money once you have 1000 true fans.
But to become a motivational speaker whom people can trust and follow, you need to find your starving crowd. You do not have to be a mini-me of the motivational speaker you idolize. You do not have to regurgitate their ideas.
Find your starving crowd and feed them fresh and authentic you.
So, you want to become a motivational speaker? Understand then what a motivational speaker is trying to do. Because you may call yourself a motivational speaker, get paid for speaking on stage, but fail to motivate a soul every time you speak.
I got invited to speak at a conference some years back. Some guy went to the stage ahead of me. He is a famous motivational speaker in the Philippines.
He was funny. He punctuated his paragraphs with punchlines. I laughed a lot. He was informative too. He filled most of his slides with quotes from dead white men. Oh, there were some Gandhi quotes also. I believe he included four tips from lifehack.org, but that was it.
He was a funny man — a good enough storyteller and probably a good person. But the speech has no clear message, and I was not sure if he was able to move people.
It wasn’t easy to follow him. People expected another motivational speaker to be as funny. I chose to be motivational. I did not get as many laughs, but the speech was well-appreciated. Few eyes sparkled, and the few ones were enough for me.
Okay, so let us talk a bit about motivation.
5. What is motivation?
The root word for motivation is motive, the reason for your action.
When we try to judge the goodness of someone’s action, we look into their motives. If the reason is not good, we don’t trust the person.
Then, the suffix ion indicates that it is a product or a process.
From etymology, we can say that motivation is the process (or product) of persuading someone to change a behavior to achieve a goal.
It is sexy to say to use the word reason instead of persuasion. We like to believe that human beings are reasonable animals. So, dictionaries might say that motivation is the process of giving people reasons to act in a certain way.
Reasons may work for a few. You use logic to show why one action is better than others to achieve a specific goal.
But it is persuasion that works better for motivational speakers of all kinds — they who tell the best stories win.
People have motives for their actions. Even employees who managers tagged as unmotivated have unsaid motives. They are motivated to do something else, something more desirable than what the company wants them to do.
6. What is the job of a motivational speaker?
Look again at Jef Menguin’s definition of motivation: the process (or product) of persuading someone to change a behavior to achieve a goal.
Using persuasive tools, like storytelling, a motivational speaker attempts to help change the audience’s behavior to achieve their goals.
The desired behaviors are often obvious.
A company that hired a motivational speaker to speak before its army of salespeople, for example, must have been preaching target behaviors to achieve sales targets. Unfortunately, not everyone is adapting the behavior. The role of a motivational speaker, in this case, is to create a sense of urgency, to encourage, and to enable salespeople to change behaviors.
This is not easy. Increased sales don’t happen because people are motivated. People buy products they like. Competitors find ways to outsell you.
There are times when the motivational speaker delivers speeches to the converted.
For example, the followers of John Maxwell, Tony Robbins, or Les Brown who purchase tickets to hear them speak do not need much motivation. They are very motivated. They want to be told what to do.
If you want to become a motivational speaker, it will help you study how speakers get invited and why people pay them.
7. How a motivational speaker gets paid?
Not all motivational speakers get paid. You can find many motivational speakers in churches who will gladly share their stories, who will try to save your soul for free.
Newbies typically don’t get paid. Probably because most of them believe they don’t deserve to get paid yet. They are still “practicing.” A bottle of wine for a 30-minute speech is enough.
Some freelance speakers will be happy to receive a thousand pesos. It is called honorariums. I don’t find any honor in this kind of pay since others think honorariums are talent fees.
Most get paid 5000 pesos for a motivational speech. But you may charge 10,000 or 20,000 or 40,000 pesos.
Yes, some speakers charge 40,000 pesos an hour, then charge 80,000 pesos for two hours as if a two-hour speech is twice better than an hour. A good website and a bold claim that you are the best help increase the fees.
The industry experts, often invited as keynote speakers in conventions and conferences, may charge six to seven figures. Yes, you read that right.
In general, people do not pay for the speech. They pay for you who can deliver results.
8. Why people hire a motivational speaker?
The obvious answer is that you failed to make people practice a particular behavior. You need someone from outside, probably someone whom many people trust, to create a sense of urgency inside the organization.
This investment does not always work. But those who do are greatly rewarded. Some motivational speakers can flip the switch.
You can be a motivational speaker without a strategy. If you only want to share your stories and inspire people, you can do that. Maybe, you are a good storyteller; you’ll get invited.
Without a clear strategy, a career in motivational speaking is unlikely to feed your family.
9. Build Your Confidence
People buy your confidence. They listen to speakers who demonstrate faith in their ideas and solutions.
Wannabe speakers play small. They pick audiences whom they believe they can easily handle.
That’s what I did when I started dreaming of becoming a motivational speaker.
I targeted students since I was previously a seminarian who handled retreats and recollections. I was a school teacher whose words are listened to by students. I sent letters to more than a hundred schools. None took my offer.
When I started offering my services to principals and their bosses, I started to motivate teachers. When I began training managers, I began to speak in sales rallies, conferences, and conventions.
The key is authentic confidence. No, not the “fake it ’til you make it advice” often given by those who don’t get paid for speak.
You will build authentic confidence when you spend time understanding your audience, knowing their problems, and finding ways to solve them.
Learn your trade. Become the person who spends time creating solutions to help people. Your ability to tell a story will help you connect with your audience, but your answers will give you confidence.
10. Pick Your Lane
Wannabe speakers speak about almost everything. Upon listening to one great speaker, they regurgitate the ideas, then deliver the same as if those ideas are their own.
Pick your lane.
There are thousands of motivational speakers. More than 80 percent of them say the same thing. But only five percent of them can genuinely claim that they are professional speakers.
They are speakers who have solutions to the problems of their starving crowd. Pick one elegant idea, an idea that solves your starving crowd’s problem, and make it your own.
Russel Conwell’s speech, Acres of Diamonds, was delivered more than 6000 times, and there was always a starving crowd for people who want to become successful.
People paid to hear the speeches of Og Mandino again and again. He picked his lane.
You can say the same thing for Nick Vujicic, Simon Sinek, Zig Ziglar, Chris Gardner, Eckart Tolle, and T. Harv Ecker.
You will find many motivational speakers in the Philippines. But only a few picked a lane.
Pick your lane.
11. Crafting Vs. Winging
I know a pastor who said he never prepared a sermon because it is the Holy Spirit who speaks, not him, in his speeches. I don’t know what spirit possessed him, but he is one of the most disorganized and confused speakers I have ever heard.
Craft your speeches like you are going to speak to the people you honor and respect. People are allowing you to change their lives.
Professional speakers do rehearsals. Like other professional performers, they want to deliver their messages in the best way possible.
Winging it won’t make you fly high.
12. Create Your Formula
You want your speech to be sticky and memorable. You want to make your solutions look credible. You can do both when you convert your answers into a formula that people can follow.
Einstein gave us E = mc² because that is sticky and memorable. When explained, it is easier to understand.
Motivational speakers with original ideas may come up with acronyms. But a formula sounds like a solution. People are not looking for acronyms; they want solutions.
Improve your speech delivery so people will listen to you. As I have said, even good enough speakers can become paid motivational speakers.
But you don’t have to stay in being good enough when you have opportunities to be excellent in what you do.
Speaking, like acting, is performance. When you practice excellent delivery, you will win.
13. Super Simple Speech Organizing
I will offer a course on writing persuasive speeches. But I want you to get started.
The typical speech organization is the introduction, body, and conclusion. Simple. You must have studied that before. Another way of doing it is to tell them what you want to say to them, tell it to them, then told them what you told them. If you follow this layout, you will likely deliver the most common speech: a boring lecture.
I won’t give you the typical organization patterns like AIDA, PPF, SMG, and C&E.
Motivational speeches answer four crucial questions.
What is that which you are selling us? You must be able to be clear about what it is that you are offering your audience. If it is not familiar to them, you got to make it known. One way to do that is to contrast what you offer with what people currently have.
What’s in it for us? Your speech needs to show the advantages and benefits of buying what you are offering to them. People want to ease their pain, and they seek pleasure. Amateur speakers tend to tell testimonies which has nothing to do with the audience.
Why do we have to believe you? Some speakers are trusted even before they open their mouths. The likes of Bo Sanchez, Mike Velarde, and Appolo Quiboloy deliver speeches to the converted.
For most of us who are less known, we need to establish our credibility. Excellent personal stories that showcase our credibility helps. A well-written introduction read by someone trusted by your audience will also help.
How much? This is not just a question of money, though it is often a given. People want to know how much effort and time they need to invest in getting what you are offering them. If you promise them to lose weight in one year by exercising every day, they won’t be excited.
14. Teaching vs. Storytelling
You are going to teach your audience the solutions to their problems. Teaching is essential. If you are not teaching, you are not helping.
But it does not mean you have to teach like a lecturer.
In delivering motivational speeches, you spend twenty percent teaching and eighty percent telling stories.
Because in motivational speeches, people want more inspiration, not information. Stories inspire; facts inform.
Storytelling is a craft you can master.
15. Stories to Drop
Not all stories are equal. Whoever tells the best story wins.
Drop any story which has nothing to do with your solutions. If it has nothing to do with your message, drop a humorous story you regularly use to get the audience’s attention.
Drop a tear-jerker story if it has nothing to do with your message.
Professional speakers craft their speeches. Though the theme and topics may be the same, you should tailor-fit speeches to your audience, your starving crowd.
You also ought to rehearse your speeches. And when you do, consider possible scenarios. Consider the response of your audience, the technology, and the size of the stage.
People say that practice makes perfect. This is not true. Wrong practice won’t make your speech perfect.
When you rehearse, you are looking for ways to improve the speech, not just to master it. You are not joining a declamation contest; you will have a projected conversation with your audience.
17. Using Humor
I have mentioned humor earlier. You will find here ten tips on how to embed humor in your speeches.
Frankly, I don’t spend much time looking for humorous stories. I look for stories that inspire and illustrate. But I do believe in the power of humor to persuade the audience.
It is easier to trust a person who can make you laugh. Human beings love humor.
18. Using Visual Aids
PowerPoint presentation isn’t the only visual aid available to us.
Your whole body is a visual aid. Use gestures and be mindful of your facial expressions. Rehearse your body movements. Just don’t overdo it.
That’s because visual aid’s primary use is to demonstrate that which a simple word cannot do.
Develop your speaking style. Public speaking schools will teach you specific ways of delivering your speeches. There is no one way of giving a speech, but people expect you to deliver it your way.
It is okay to imitate someone at first. Even Kobe Bryant stole some of the moves of Michael Jordan. Probably, it helped him understand how to play the games even better. But he did more than that. He invented his own too.
It is okay to act like a comedian. Just don’t forget that motivational speaking isn’t comedy.
19. Show the Authentic You
I am happy for those who can approximate the native English speakers when they speak the language. It takes a lot of practice to do that.
But you don’t have to speak like Americans or British when you deliver speeches. You don’t even have to talk in English. You only need to communicate your message in the best way possible.
Twice I was invited to Thailand to deliver motivational speeches. My host said that they liked me better than the Caucasian speakers. They said that was because my English, my pronunciation, is easier to understand.
Here in the Philippines, I know people who are quick to point out my mispronunciations.
Don’t worry if you are Visayan. Your accent does not make you less capable. People want you, the authentic you.
20. Backstage Rituals
If I were to come from backstage, I spend time stretching to warm up. Stretching is also my way of taking control of the situation.
I don’t practice anymore. I keep my mouth shut.
Various speakers have various backstage rituals. The rituals are necessary because they helped some speakers be in the zone.
If you consider yourself a professional speaker, think of what you do as a business. A business is an idea that will help people.
I won’t discuss the nitty-gritty of the speaking business. But there are three ideas I firmly believe can help you.
21. 1000 True Fans
If you want to build your business, grow your true fans. If you’re going to make a difference in the world, start a movement with your true fans.
I have heard of 1000 true fans before. I have written about it when I talk about building a tribe. But as I learn more about it, it becomes more clear to me. To create a tribe of true fans, I have to commit to seeing, meeting, and building relationships with them.
The true fans aren’t your starving crowd. Some of them belong to it. They are the people who will invite you again and again. The ones who will buy your books, ask for more training programs, send people to your seminars, and subscribe to your online courses.
22. Getting Oversubscribed
A motivational speaker does not need to be a starving artist.
You can aim for the number of clients you need in a year to keep your business growing. If you need to earn a million pesos a year, you may need to make about a hundred thousand every month.
If you get paid fifty thousand for each speech, then you need two clients every month. If you charge ten thousand, then you need ten clients. You are oversubscribed when you have more clients who make you earn about 150,000 a month.
Of course, if you want to earn a million a month, then you ought to plan for that too. Get people six or seven clients who will pay you more than 200k for each speech. I don’t know how you’ll do this, but some motivational speakers make this happen every month.
You do not need any certification to become a paid professional speaker. You need a business registration if you expect to get paid.
Some speakers charge 50,000 dollars and more though not certified. These speakers are industry experts and thought leaders.
Of course, a certification from your peer will help a lot. It shows to the world that you have delivered more than 250 paid speeches and got good marks. So, the acronym CSP can help you market your expertise.
I believe we have Filipino speakers who are Certified Speaking Professionals who practice professional speaking abroad where they get paid well.
I am not sure if we have any in the Philippines today. I believe that there is an association that shows that you are registered. I don’t know its actual value. I am sure it is not necessary.
If becoming certified will give you confidence, then get one. But be very careful. Your certification must demonstrate accomplishments.
Join a speaking association that will help you develop the skills too. I earned a DTM award from Toastmasters International after delivering more than 500 speeches and exercising leadership roles from 2006 to 2011. I seldom use the acronym, but I am proud of my accomplishments as a student of public speaking.
I don’t know of any association in the Philippines to help you with the speaking skills you need to get started.
24. Sell Your Expertise
I think you can build a great business as a motivational speaker if you sell your expertise. People will pay you more if you have proprietary solutions.
Purpose-Driven Life is a book that skyrocketed the speaking career of Rick Warren. Les Brown became famous because of his radio program. Zig Ziglar started to earn millions because of his books.
I mentioned Russel Conwell earlier. He became more credible because he injected local stories in his speeches. He did a lot of research to customize a speech which he delivered more than 6000 times.
Today, you can have your TV. Creating a Youtube channel is free. You can host an FB live. And yes, you can write your book.
Motivational Speaking in 2021
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies ask motivational speakers to deliver their speeches online.
Speakers rebranded themselves. We now have virtual keynote speakers and virtual leadership speakers.
The essentials are the same.
You don’t have to deliver it like Mike Carr. The speech was entertaining.
Stick to your style. Use technology to your advantage.
You want to become a motivational speaker. I hope this guide helped you get started on your journey.
You can make this a side hustle. Or make it a full-time business.
If you decide to make motivational speaking a business, I encourage you to think strategically and invest your time, effort, and energy. You will be in the business of helping people achieve their dreams.
Hi, I am Jef Menguin.
I believe that our first purpose is to get a good life, then use whatever we have to thrive. In this article, I shared the easy ways to get started – and be successful – as a motivational speaker.
You must know what your calling is and how success looks like to you. I started my speaking career competing to become the best motivational speaker in Asia until I realized that that is not my calling and that’s not where I get my happiness.
I help organizations develop inspiring leaders and create experiences that engage employees. Leadership development does not have to be expensive, lengthy, and demanding.
These days, I create online courses, shoot educational videos, and host virtual workshops. I have also started writing books, guides, and articles. And at times, I deliver speeches that give courage for people to start working on their dreams.
If there’s anything you believe I can do for you, please feel free to reach out.