How to Become a Motivational Speaker to Inspire, Impact and Influence
A motivational speaker is a professional who gives speeches that have been designed to inspire and motivate individuals in an audience. Motivational speakers usually use their life experiences to build successful careers. This they do by sharing any powerful messages they have come across with others who may benefit from the wisdom they acquired from those experiences.
Also known as inspirational speakers, motivational speakers are gifted in the art of persuasion. This allows them to deliver their ideas in a way that is not only positive, but one that also persuades others to follow their way of thinking.
What makes motivational speakers so important?
Inspirational speakers help motivate individuals to live their best lives, while also comforting people who may be struggling with mental and physical health issues by showing them that they too can overcome various challenges. This gives people hope that they can find success and happiness in life.
While anyone can become a professional motivational speaker, a lot of practice and time is required to do so. Inspirational speakers have specific skills that make them successful. If you want to become a motivational speaker, you will be required to refine some of your skills.
As you start speaking to large groups, which builds your experience, you will develop some of the skills that motivational speakers have, including:
- Time management
- Proper articulation
- Engaging presentation
Through practicing over a period of time, motivational speakers learn how to measure how interested their audience is on a particular topic and how to adapt to any feedback they get.
Additionally, they become more confident in their storytelling and delivery abilities, while also learning how to manage the time they’ve been given to present by keeping their messages clear and concise.
There are various steps that you can take if you desire to become a motivational speaker, let’s discuss them below.
How to Become a Motivational Speaker
Getting into professional public speaking may be a little challenging for some people. However, the following strategies may help make things a bit easier, thus enabling you to not only start your career in motivational speaking but also sustain it.
1. Define your area of expertise
Here, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions, such as “what unique perspective can I offer?” “what am I good at?” “what am I passionate about?”
By asking yourself these questions, you help figure out the subjects you have a passion for, that you want to talk about. If you aren’t sure what subjects you like or those that you’d like to share with others, draw up a list.
Here's a great question to ask yourself, by Mark Brown, 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking:
Imagine your child is sitting in the fourth row in the audience and you're looking at him from the stage, and you have one message to tell him, what will you tell him?"
You can also talk about subjects you possess expert-level knowledge on, as it adds to your credibility and content.
Pro-Tip: If it’s not important to you then why should it be important to others? Choose a subject that you feel strongly about; this will make it easier to convince others why the topic matters.
2. Create your content
Once you’ve decided on what topics you’ll be talking about, you can now move on to developing your content. Here, you need to ensure that you present your work in a way that is unique.
Audiences like hearing new facts or concepts that they may not have heard before. Therefore, you should note the ideas that have already been used and draft yours in a way that would best appeal to individuals who do not know a lot on the subject you’ve chosen to speak on.
Pro-Tip: As we are living in the digital age, creating a website that features your work as a motivational speaker helps your audience engage with your content more easily.
3. Identify and understand your target audience
Once you’ve decided on the topics you want to talk about, it will be easier for you to determine who may benefit from hearing you speak. This may be people who come from different areas, people who vary in age, etc.
Identifying your target audience also helps you determine the examples you should use that help relay your point in the most effective way. Once you know your target audience, finding them will be as easy as pie.
With regard to understanding your audience, you should focus on relating with the members of your audience who are engaged in your work. This will enable you to come up with content that resonates with your audience.
Pro-Tip: Forms of correspondence like fan mail, email as well as message boards and social media engagement are good ways to learn more about your audience.
4. Determine the public’s interest in your work
Here, you should use your online presence to work together with influencers on various social media platforms, write blog posts or share original quotes by you.
You can even consider getting a graphic designer to spruce up your brand image or write an e-book. Testing your content online allows you to get feedback, which shows you whether or not you’re ready to start presenting on stage.
Additionally, building an online audience may help support attendance at your speaking events in the future.
5. Acquire public speaking skills
One of the most challenging parts with presenting content is finding a way to do it that gets your audience to pay attention. This is why you need to find different ways to convince your audience that paying attention to your message will, in fact, better their quality of life.
There are various ways to improve your public speaking skills. However, some energy, dedication and time is needed to do so. You can either;
- Learn from experts online, from platforms like YouTube
- Take a public speaking course. This may also be useful in helping get over any nerves you get before presenting.
- Hire a mentor to take you through public speaking
- Join Toastmasters, which gives you a platform to pratice consistently and get feedback
Pro-Tip: If you do decide to improve on your public skills, remember to practice!
6. Learn how to write a good speech
Once you’ve known your audience, you can now move on to writing a speech that will excite and interest your audience.
As we all probably know, a speech comes in 3 parts; the introduction, the body and the conclusion. A strong introduction is a good way to open your presentation.
After discussing all the points under the body of your speech, you can move on to the conclusion. Here, you can summarize your main points and add a call to action, this will make your speeches effective.
Pro-Tip: Always leave your audience with something to remember. See this post on more ways to end with a bang.
Now that we know the different steps one can take to become a motivational speaker, let’s look at how to get your first speaking engagement.
How to Book Your First Speaking Engagement
Booking your first speaking engagement may seem like a challenging task. However, once you achieve this, you will find it easy to move forward, in addition to feeling more confident.
For your first public speaking assignment, you may need to either speak for free or at a discounted cost. However, this is only for a short while as you hone your speaking skills.
You can begin by going to local organizations and schools who you believe would benefit from your message. As you gain more experience, people may begin inquiring about your rates, which may continue to rise as you speak at more engagements.
There are different ways you can use to get more speaking engagements. They include:
Investing in marketing
You can use a local marketing professional to help you reach more audiences. Marketing helps you become known as you build momentum in your career as a motivational speaker.
You can let your business contacts, friends and family know that you’re actively booking speaking gigs.
Ensure that your content is original and that you constantly find new ways to build your reputation as an expert on a particular subject.
Build new connections and talk about your work
If you’re new to the world of motivational speaking, then you shouldn’t be fazed if strangers don’t hire you, especially if you have no experience.
As you’re starting out, work on developing personal connections with individuals who may hire you in the future, while also building your network.
Additionally, you can talk about your new career as a motivational speaker to new people; you never know who might need a speaker.
Attend networking engagements
Using search engine sites such as Google, look for any networking events near you and sift through the information that comes up. Additionally, you can also ask around in LinkedIn and Facebook groups to learn the types of events that your peers attend.
Meeting people you don’t know in-person may provide good opportunities to collaborate in the future.
You can also use sites like Eventbrite to find events in your area. Once you do find a suitable event and attend it, remember to follow up with anyone you made acquaintances with.
This will help sustain the relationship and could possibly help you get speaking gigs in the future.
Apply for speaking assignments
Word of mouth advertising is good as it develops a network of connections with all the individuals you talk about your speaking gigs with, in addition to being free, which means you incur no costs.
In addition to networking, you should also apply for any available time slots at workshops, conferences, conventions and other avenues. Look up speakers who talk about subjects that are similar to yours and discover where they speak.
You can also contact speaker bureaus or source for the names of event organizers who could help you find engagements that are paying well.
Always have realistic expectations
As I said earlier, it may not be easy to get speaking gigs at first. However, that shouldn’t stop you from persevering and pursuing new assignments. Try not to lose your motivation while you contact potential clients to hire you.
Additionally, you should keep in mind that small unpaid gigs are okay in the beginning as you gain your footing and build your reputation as a motivational speaker. These engagements may bring more opportunities for you in the future and as you gain more experience, paid engagements.
Therefore, work at honing your skills and taking it all in stride.
At this point, you should be knowing the steps it takes to become a motivational speaker as well as ways to book your first speaking engagement.
You might also like: How to Get More Speaking Engagements (Gig after Gig)
Bonus Tips on Making a Career as a Motivational Speaker
Always keep moving forward
A good motivational speaker seeks out new opportunities as a way to not only hone their craft but also gain more experience.
Refrain from remaining stagnant.
Learn how to negotiate your rates
Negotiating may be intimidating to many; be it negotiating an important deal or negotiating a salary in a new firm. However, doing your research on what other speakers earn may make it easy for you to come up with a specific figure that you feel is worth your time.
If you are offered a chance to speak at an engagement, you shouldn’t accept the first fee you’re offered. Often times, most individuals have a range in mind when they offer you a particular amount; while they may want to pay you the lowest amount, your goal should always be to get the highest amount that you feel is worth your time.
Pro-Tip: Use bracketing, i.e. a technique that asks for an amount that’s slightly higher than the amount you’ve been offered, which grows the chances of you being paid the amount that you actually want. Remember, life is a negotiation, so keep getting better at it!
Keep promoting your services
If your goal is to become a successful inspirational speaker, you need to continue to market yourself. You can do this using either word of mouth referrals, physical networking or even social media, which will help you reach a much wider audience.
From the above, we can see that there’s a lot that goes into becoming a motivational speaker. While this may seem like a lot, having passion for what you do makes it a lot easier. Always remember though that experience, practice and confidence goes a long way!