What is motivation?

Motivation is the desire to act to achieve a goal. Motivation is the reason why you will do something you hate to do. It is the reason why you wake up each morning with full enthusiasm. Motivation makes you keep standing even when you keep falling.

So, you want to be a motivational speaker? Understand then what a motivational speaker is trying to do.

You may call yourself a motivational speaker and 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 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 had no clear message, and I was unsure if he added value to others.

It wasn’t easy to follow him. People expected another motivational speaker to be as funny.

I did not get as many laughs, but the speech was well-appreciated. Few eyes sparkled, and the few ones were enough for me.

Information is important.

Entertainment makes your speech desirable.

But the real purpose of a motivational speech is not to make people laugh, jump, or cry.

You want people to believe in the beauty of their dreams and gain the courage to make it happen while you speak.

Motivation must lead to motion.

A motivational speaker is a person who delivers speeches that put a spotlight on people’s challenges, uncover causes, offer a proven solution (and its benefits), and move people into action.

A motivational speaker is someone who constantly seeks to understand people’s motivation.

Okay, so let us talk a bit about motivation.

carrot and stick motivation
Carrot and Stick motivation does not always work. So, companies hire motivational speakers.

5. Do you know what motivates people?

The root word for motivation is motive, the reason for your action. 

When we try to judge the goodness of someone’s actions, 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 persuasion works better for motivational speakers — those 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.

Learn more about giving a motivational speech.

6. What behaviors do you want to change?

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. 

For example, a company that hired a motivational speaker to speak before its army of salespeople must have been preaching target behaviors to achieve sales targets.

Unfortunately, not everyone is adapting to the behavior. In this case, a motivational speaker’s role is to create a sense of urgency and encourage salespeople to change their behaviors.

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. Do you want to get paid as a motivational speaker?

Not all motivational speakers get paid. You can find many motivational speakers in churches who will gladly share their stories and who will try to save your soul for free.

Newbies typically don’t get paid. Probably because most 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 and 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 at 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. Motivational speakers can flip the switch.

Why companies hire motivational speakers?

The obvious answer is that they failed to make people practice a particular behavior. They need someone from outside the company, 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.

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