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Why hire a Motivational Speaker?

2 February, 2015

Most people will have in their minds an image of what they think a “motivational speaker” is, and it’s often wrong!

As a label, it is actually a blanket term covering many different types of speaker. However it is often perceived as being someone who is slightly pretentious, “holier than thou” – and full of platitudes and psychobabble – of the kind so brilliantly spoofed by the wonderful Neil Mullarkey creation L. Vaughan Spencer – the “Self Help Guru and Gangsta Motivator”! (Any budding motivational speaker should take a look at his website as a reality check to stop you taking yourself too seriously!). I remember once answering the “what do you do?” question by saying “I’m a speaker”….  to which the answer was ” Oh dear – I hope you’re not one of those awful American style so-called motivational speakers” ….. which seems to be a pre-conceived image held by many people I meet!

The trouble is – British audiences are a cynical lot – and being preached at and told they are (in effect) inadequate and need to change their behaviour is a sure fire way to put their back up! Their response would most likely be to sit there stony faced, arms folded saying to themselves “go on then – motivate me”!

Yet who can deny that being inspired, uplifted and made to feel good about yourself and your potential is not a worthwhile aim?

A good motivational speaker who can do all the above – in an authentic, down to earth manner (and is funny with it!) is a valuable asset to any event – whatever label they are given. Frankly – most conference delegates would rather be entertained – so if a speaker can combine information or a personal story with humour so much the better!

However, it is a fallacy to assume that any speaker can “motivate” someone else – the truth is that motivation has to come from within – it cannot be imposed. Here’s what Anita Roddick, Founder of Body Shop said: “People become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power, and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organisation”. Sir John Harvey Jones puts it another way: “The best people are self motivated. They do their best work when they have come to believe, through their own processes, that what they are doing is worthwhile. The free man is always better than the slave”.

A motivational speaker can be a catalyst for the above – which is why a more accurate term should be “inspirational speaker” – i.e. someone who can inspire people to motivate themselves to do what’s necessary to achieve their goals.

In my next post I will look at the different types of motivational speaker … and why choosing the right one for your event is not always an easy task! You may also want to take a look at why I call my keynote Restless Curiosity and also some Case Studies from workshops I have led for senior managers on ways to improve staff motivation in my Keynote Case Studies.

If you are looking for an entertaining keynote or after-dinner speaker – please get in touch to discuss your event!

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