How To Be a Motivational Speaker

By Brad Montgomery, Motivational Speaker

Synopsis: Aspiring motivational speakers or corporate humorists often call me and ask: “Brad, just how can I get started on the path to being a motivational or keynote speaker?” In this article, I describe the associations beginning speakers might find helpful as well as the importance of just taking initiative to find personal success.

How To Be a Motivational Speaker

When I’m asked for advice about being a humorist or motivational speaker, I always say that it takes personal drive as well as some familiarity with the world of speaking. Becoming a speaker is anything but a lonely journey; there are all sorts of organizations to help you with your skills and connections, where motivational speakers from small communities or national organizations come together to meet and discuss the trade. One of the first steps to success is finding and participating in these organizations. The National Speakers Association is the largest organization for professional speakers, and it has many regional subsets and local groups. For aspiring speakers, attending local meetings is practically a must, and you should go as often as possible. One of my mentors called it “community college for speakers.” He was right; if you want to be a speaker you need to be part of the National Speakers Association. Period.

Another helpful organization is Toastmasters International. Toastmasters also has many local branches, and speakers go to the local meetings to learn about professional speaking, practice giving prepared and impromptu speeches, and improve on their personal skills. It’s a useful organization because speaking practice is a really fundamental step toward becoming a good speaker. Being able to speak in an environment of other speakers is one of the reasons joining such community organizations and clubs is so helpful.

The most important thing for motivational speakers, though, is just getting out there and starting. Just do it; Nike is right, and the sooner and more often you speak the better you’ll find yourself becoming. To start off your speaking career, local clubs like the Optimists Club, Lions Clubs, or Rotary Clubs provide great opportunities. They need speakers every month (or even week!), so it’s a lot easier to book yourself into them. You can find local clubs online, or ask the reference librarian at your local library. The best way to contact them is to call them or mail them; I sent a mailing once and booked at least 20 of them in one swoop. It was a cheap mailing I created at Kinkos for next to nothing… there was nothing professional about it.) It’s a great place to start because their expectations are low; you are unpaid, so there’s not too much pressure. First you can work up your twenty-minute speech by performing it at 20 service clubs. Then move on to your second twenty minute speech. You get the idea. By the time you’ve done that three times, you have a one-hour keynote. It’s really a situation where you can’t lose – they’re usually at 7 AM, and that’s a time I know I’m not usually busy. Not only do you get an actual live audience with which to practice, y ou get free breakfast, and you get to say the Pledge of Allegiance…I don’t know what more you could want.

In the end, what separates wanna-be motivational speakers from beginning motivational speakers is just starting. Call a service club, get yourself booked for a couple of months from now and… SHAZAM! … you are officially a beginning speaker! Careful study and preparation are vital to speakers. But you can study and prepare all you like, but if you don’t speak in front of groups you are still not a speaker. The only way to get experience is by doing it, so what are you waiting around reading about it for? Get out there and speak!

More on How to Be A Motivational Speaker

Here are a few quick resources for Motivational speakers:

1. Toastmasters
2. Dale Carnegie
3. American Society for Training & Development
4. National Speakers Association
5. The Academy for Professional Speaking

Books
1. “How to Give a Damn Good Speech” by Philip R. Theibert
2. “Speaking for Profit and Pleasure” by William D. Thompson
3. “Speak and Grow Rich,” by Dottie Walters
4. “Money Talks,” by Alan Weiss

Interested in learning how to use humor in your presentation? Check out Brad’s Got Mirth: Milking Your Presentation for all the Humor It’s Worth.

Learn more about how to be a motivational speaker with my how-to audio here.

Related:
Blog Posts:
How to Be a Motivational Speaker (Part 1) | Get a Mentor
How To Be A Motivational Speaker (2) Choose the Right Topic

Brad’s Blog also has info on How to Be a Motivational Speaker

How to be a motivational speaker: Template for a speech

On YouTube
Part 1. Find a Speaker Mentor
Part 2. Choose a Correct Motivational Topic (on YouTube)
How to be a Motivational Speaker
(3) on YouTube
Adding Humor (1) The Act Out (On YouTube)
Adding Humor (2): Give the Audience a Voice (on YouTube)
Adding Humor (3) What to Do When Your Humor Bombs (YouTube)
Part 7: How To be a Speaker — Find a Niche
Part 8: How to be a Motivational Speaker — Be Authentic on the Platform