The Top Ten Mistakes Motivational Speakers Make

So, you want to be a motivational speaker. Join the club. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s a REALLY BIG club. So start working now to make sure you find ways to stand out from the crowd. We’ll start with looking at what you should NOT do.

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You know you’ve got a powerful message. You know you’ve got a killer story. You’ve got the brochures printed and the website up and running. You can hear the applause You can envision the standing ovation. You know exactly where the cameras should be to get your best angle. You’ve even found the perfect outfit. You’ve got the cover of your book designed, and you’ve already told everybody in the neighborhood that you’re a speaker, including the pizza guy who has already hired you as his life coach. There’s just one thing you don’t have – a speech. Yeah, that’s a problem.

If you haven’t crafted a spectacular speech, or even a pretty good speech, then you have just created a brand around no product. You did say you’re a speaker, right? That means you get paid for speaking. Don’t feel bad, there are many speakers out there who spend all their time packaging their product and never really get around to writing that darn speech. The speech is what you are selling. The speech is what the client is going to buy. The speech is what you will deliver. The speech is your product. Without a speech you have just branded air – and if you can sell a speech that you haven’t even written, well, I commend you on your selling skills, and if this doesn’t pan out, you can try selling snake oil from a covered wagon. Anyway, not having a speech is your bad news. The good news is that I would rather help a speaker who has no speech, than a speaker who has spent years delivering a crappy one. You have a clean slate to work with and nothing excites me more than a clean slate. Okay, so maybe chocolate excites me more. And campy sitcoms. And the words “buy one get one free.” But, still, a clean slate is pretty high up there on my list.

So you’re pumped up and ready to go. You have an idea of what you want do and how you want to do it. In fact, you have spent an obscene amount of time telling anybody who will listen what you want to do and how you want to do it, and asking everybody and their mother what you should do and how you should do it. For months it has been all about you. STOP. (Sorry to yell.) It’s not about you – it’s about them. This is always about them – your listener, your reader, your audience. This is not about what you want to do, it’s about what they want to see and hear – that you are qualified to speak about, of course. Did you hear that? That you are QUALIFIED to speak about. So let’s spend this time together talking about what it is that audiences want in a motivational speech. Because if you give them what they want, you will leave them cheering, wanting more, and remembering your name. Which is the point. Sorry for all the sentence fragments. Let’s just say I won’t be a speaker who talks about grammar!

I think that sometimes the best way to learn is from our mistakes. So let’s talk about the ten mistakes that most motivational speakers make in their speeches. And, yes, I have made every mistake myself, more than once. I repeat, these are mistakes. Don’t try them at home. Unless you want to lose an audience in thirty minutes or less. Or maybe that’s your goal. If that’s the case, then you’re in luck, because it’s easy to lose an audience. There are thousands of speakers out there doing it every day.

Just “Wing It” – As long as you have a general idea of where you want to go, that’s good enough. Every word that comes out of your mouth is worth listening to. You’re convinced your words are music to their ears. Just stand up there, smile, and start talking. WRONG. You’re a professional. You are paid to be up there. Earn your money. Write a speech. Learn it. Practice it. Practice it again and again. Find as many audiences as you can that will let you test it on them. And food for thought: Audiences shouldn’t pay you to test your speech. Sometimes you should pay them, if you know what I mean. Fine tune that thing until it is worth the money you are charging. The speaker who scripts his speech will win EVERY TIME over the speaker who decides to just “wing it.” There is too much competition in the speaking business for you to just get up there and talk. Do that, and you won’t last long.

Give Them Just The Facts Ma’am Just The Facts – You are not here to entertain. They are not here to have a good time. You are a professional. Your knowledge is to be respected. They should sit down, be quiet, and shut up so you can tell them everything you know in sixty minutes accompanied by a slide show that is more painful than water boarding. WRONG. There is one thing that every client who has ever called me has been looking for in their speaker: FUN. Yes, you heard me right. Audiences want a fun experience. Yes, they want to learn. Yes, they want to be challenged. Yes, they want to be taught. But they want to be entertained. Highly entertained. There will be thousands of other speakers who will be speaking on your same topic. It’s the speaker who looks fun that will be chosen.

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