Rebel Uprising Podcast

How NOT to Be a Motivational Speaker: Take Your 9 Point Plan & Shove It

My rant on How Not to Be a Motivational Speaker last week focused on poor form and delivery of motivational speakers. This week I am focusing on content specifically how these speakers can take their 9 (3 or 6) point plan for my success and shove it.

1. Don't ASSume everyone is stuck

Every plan for success I hear makes the assumption that the audience is stuck. We are not living our dream or reaching our goals or we don't even know what our dream is. More importantly, we are miserable because of it.  How does the speaker know? She has been there! Standing at the top of a bridge, ready to jump because she is just so miserable. If the presenter was this miserable, we must be too.

Except most of us aren't – sure there are things we all want to change. Yes, there are some of who are not living the dream. To go in with the assumption that everyone is miserable is not to know or understand your audience at all. It's asinine!

2. Why do all these plans sound like S.M.A.R.T. goals?

No matter how many steps the speaker has for success, they all just sound like they ripped off S.M.A.R.T. goals to me. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Most plans for success are a take-off on the S.M.A.R.T. goal idea with just a little extra gimmick to make the audience want to buy their book, CD, or training sessions!

Last week fellow presentation coach, Simon at Curved Vision, commented that motivational speakers keep their audiences addicted to their information so that when a person fails – they know where to go for help. Do we need the motivational speaker's plan for success? Or do they really just want to sell us more plans and turn us into repeat customers?

Maybe we should be smart and just stick with S.M.A.R.T. goals!

3. Not everyone wants to make bold & radical change

“What is your dream?” Not is it just bad form to put the audience on a spot with this question, it is also horrendous form to belittle an audience member because their dream doesn't match their day job. The second major assumption is that if you have a dream, you need to make a bold & radical change in order to follow it. Quit you day job! Move to Turkey! Follow your dream!

Let's face it – not many of us are into that kind of change. We have bills to pay. Children (or in my case cats) to feed. Jon Acuff in his book Quitter (non-affiliate link) argues that you shouldn't give up your day job to follow your dream. It creates too much pressure on you, your family and your dream suffers. Change doesn't have to be radical – it can be small!

4. Don't be your own case study

I'm not interested in hearing the presenters own success story. You know the “How I overcame my failure following my plan” story. I am interested only in hearing about other people's stories. Who followed your plan or got coached by you and what happened to them. What were their successes? What are their stories?


I've spent the last two weeks bagging on what I don't like about motivational speakers. There are speakers who make me feel inspired. Most don't have big plans for my success. My favorite speakers advocate small incremental change. They don't assume their is something wrong with my life but instead inspire me to move forward.

Who is your favorite inspirational speaker? What types of messages motivate you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!



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