Rebel Uprising Podcast

How NOT to be a Motivational Speaker

How not to be a motivational speakerI love watching speakers! I usually leave feeling inspired and ready to take on the world. Recently, I've not been so lucky. I've seen a lot of awful “motivational speakers”.

Actually, I think there is de-motivational speaking industry a foot.

However, there's lesson to be learned from even the most agonizing of presentations.

#1 – Don't try to sell me anything before you even open your mouth

Imagine walking in the door, and shoved into your hand is an order form. It's like going out on a first date and trying to get to second base right after hellos are exchanged.

Presumptuous much?

I get that speakers need to make money. Back-of-the-room sales are an integral part of that process. If I like what you say and feel connected to you, I'll buy your book or CD, or maybe even take a course from you.

However, if you start selling me BEFORE you've said one word – I am not buying anything from you!

You MUST earn your ask.

You lost me before you even spoke. You sent a message that you are more interested in my money than you are in me.

#2 – It's not all about you

Rant ahead! Here's a crappy attention getter: “Please stand up & clap. You've given me a standing ovation. Now, I have to earn it.”


I have to give you a standing ovation before you even speak?

Really? Is your self-esteem that low that I have to motivate you to do your best?

Not only did you turn me off from listening – I felt robbed after you spoke because you didn't earn the standing ovation you forced me to give!


#3 – Don't put your audience on the spot

“What is your dream?”

Just reading this question made your heart flutter, right?

It's not an easy question to answer with your therapist let alone in front of a room with 150 people in it.

I'm all for audience involvement, but involve the audience in a way that is not absolutely terrifying for them!

Talking about hopes and dreams is intimate self-disclosure that is best not done with a motivational speaker in front of a live studio audience.

As a motivational speaker, the goal should be inspiration not making people feel crappy. When people leave a room feeling worse than when they walked in that is a giant FAIL!

#4 – I wasn't kidding!  It's not all about you

When a motivational speech sounds like an opera singer warming up – me, me, me, me, me – I get turned off. I don't care how great any speaker thinks s/he is!

The stories told should highlight helping others or how others helped to change you or just be stories about other people.

The audience should be able to picture themselves in the story!

As an audience member, I want to know why I am listening to your story. What can I expect to learn or take away from the talk? (Yep, the old “What's in It for me?”)

Speaker Craig Valentine often points out that he is not special. He is not above his audience, and he is never the hero of his story. When it's me, me, me – no one cares!

#5 – For the love of all things good – PROOFREAD

In my opinion, the #1 way to undermine your credibility is not to proofread your material.

Confession: I make grammatical errors all the time. (Thank god, I am friends with a technical writer).  I'll give a pass on making an error!

However if it is a spelling error that Microsoft Office can pick up, that's just laziness.

Care enough about the audience to at least run spell check. It takes 2 minutes to make sure you don't torpedo your credibility!

We talked about what NOT to do, but who are the speakers that motivate or inspire you? How do they accomplish that? Love to hear your thoughts below.

Create Your One-of-a-Kind Message

Your 3 Word Rebellion is the Key to Growing Your Business & Impact

Yes! I’m ready to rebel!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This



Create your one-of-a-kind message that is the ultimate hook and the message you want to be known for!

The 3 Word Rebellion is the key to go from business owner to thought leader.

Read our Privacy Notice. Unsubscribe anytime.