CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a motivational speaker.
Is becoming a motivational speaker right for me?
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Develop / improve your public speaking skills
Even though it should go without saying, we are going to say it because it is absolutely paramount and vital. Motivational speakers must be talented public speakers. Even the most inspiring story or message will fail to resonate if it is not delivered with intention and flair. Not all people are naturally comfortable speaking in front of large crowds. But the skill can be learned and honed through education, practice, and experience.
Here are ways to improve your public speaking abilities:
Public Speaking Classes
Many community colleges offer classes in public speaking. Curricula commonly include stage presence; how to overcome fear and gain confidence; voice regulation and modulation; how to be persuasive; body language; how to handle difficult questions; and how to create the right presentation.
Public Speaking Clubs
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. The organization, which has clubs in 143 countries around the world, provides excellent opportunities for its members to improve their speaking and leadership skills.
Audio and Video Recordings
Both audio and video recordings of your speeches are crucial for you to effectively evaluate your presentation and determine if you are convincing and likely to motivate others to take action. When watching and listening to these recordings, pay close attention to the flow of your thoughts, the enunciation of your words, the tone of your voice, your hand movements and gestures, and your eye contact with the audience. As the speaker, do you exude confidence? As an audience member, are you comfortable and engaged?
For additional pointers consult this Learning Guide for Public Speaking.
Learn how to write
The majority of successful motivational speakers also know how to write. It is common for speakers to compose their own presentations and to sometimes write supplementary material that may be provided to audiences to help guide them through the presentation. In addition, many established speakers are also authors. Sometimes, people do not become motivational speakers until after they have published their work and been asked to speak at events.
Promote yourself and listen to feedback
A plan to market and sell yourself is as important as the message and perspective you want to share:
Determine your message and identify your audience
First and foremost, know who you want to speak to and what you want to say to them! Ask yourself if your message is relevant and timely. Think about the cultural and personality characteristics of your intended audience and how they should influence the ways you communicate.
Offer free workshops and talks
In the words of renowned international speaker Brian Tracy, ‘before you can be paid to speak, you have to have given 300 free talks.’ These early talks are the training ground on which to practise the craft, advertise, increase audience awareness, and receive feedback.
Connect with your audience through social media
Use social media to make yourself accessible and easy to contact. Look for opportunities to be interviewed on podcasts. Write posts for popular blogs. Create a buzz.
Become a member of accredited speakers’ circles and bureaus
There are agencies which specialize in connecting conference organizers and meeting planners with inspirational speakers. Several of these agencies handle fee negotiations, event scheduling, and other logistics, allowing speakers to focus on their presentations. Two of the most prominent of these organizations are the National Speakers Associationand the National Speakers Bureau.
Start working in the field
Resources / Bibliography
FabJob Guide to Become a Motivational Speaker
by Tag Goulet
How to Start Your Own Motivational Speaker Business
by Lee Randall
Getting Your Book Published for Dummies
by Sarah Parsons Zackheim
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published
by Sheree Bykofsky
How to become a Motivational Speaker
While motivational speakers may have university degrees, vocational licenses, or other certifications, none of these credentials specifically or formally qualifies them for the role. What aspiring motivational speakers quickly learn is that being an expert in a particular field or on a specific subject is often not enough. The most common characteristic among those who succeed in motivational speaking is that they have a unique talent or passion or story or perspective born of a compelling experience – one that is undeniably inspirational and therefore worth sharing with other people.
Because of this broad-based requirement, this profession is comprised of individuals from every walk of life, with widely varying personal and educational histories; from the high-powered and pioneering executive or former politician to the once homeless man or woman whose stirring story started on cold and lonely streets. These diverse and inspiring perspectives define the motivational and attention-grabbing part of the career. The speaker aspect, though, is what allows those perspectives to be shared.
In other words, motivational speakers cannot motivate unless they can effectively organize their thoughts and comfortably speak publically. Learning how to project their voice, how to speak with intent, how and when to pause for emphasis or inject humor, how to understand body language; and how to write, structure, and time material are all foundational skills that every motivational speaker must develop.
A story to tell. Advanced speaking and presentation abilities. These, are, of course, essential. Still, even more is asked of successful motivational speakers. They must understand and embrace the business of their craft; how to market, sell, and deliver it.
As might be expected in a career that is so wide-ranging, there are no state licensure requirements for motivational speakers. However, the National Speakers Association (NSA) offers the voluntary Certified Speaking Professional designation to speakers who meet specific standards of experience and earnings and can provide client endorsements.