So You Want to Be a Motivational Speaker?

We get this question often so weíve put together a few pointers together for budding motivational speakers.

You basically need five things:

A topic that you are an expert on. Donít speak on every topic because you will constantly be developing content instead of becoming proficient at delivering it. Sharpen your expertise by reading 30 minutes each day on your area of expertise.

A passion for that topic. If you arenít excited about your topic, no one else will be. Just your sheer excitement will motivate your audience to want to know more. The most motivating speakers arenít necessarily the more eloquent ones ó they are the ones who are most passionate.

Platform skills. You must become a student of the platform. Itís a privilege to stand on the platform, and speakers are responsible for constantly practicing, honing their skills, and working with various types of speech coaches. Speakers without good platform skills are rarely referred or rebooked.

Marketing skills. The most financially successful speakers arenít necessarily the ones who have the best program or platform skills. The big dogs have a killer instinct for marketing. You have to learn to promote yourself before anyone will be interested in promoting you or hearing what you have to say.

Iron will. Taking the platform requires a lot of intestinal fortitude. People with low self-esteem fail quickly in this business because audiences can be full of critical feedback. Itís not impossible for someone with low self-esteem to make it in the business, but those folks need to do a lot more work on their self-image or their negative self-talk will destroy their future.


Here are a few more tips.

Invest in training to help you develop your platform AND business skills. Iíve been coaching small business owners for a long time and I know of no tougher business than the speaking business. The more successful speakers out there invest a minimum of 10% of their annual income in training ó even those at the top of their game! For more information on the training programs we have to make speakers and authors more successful, click here.

Here is one of my favorite programs audio learning programs for emerging speakers. Click on the icon to get to learn more.

Get a mentor. You can learn from someone who has already built their speaking career. Remember to be a good steward of their time and trust.

Invest in your skills through involvement with professional organizations. Start by joining a local Toastmasters chapter. For one near you, go the Next, look for a local National Speakers Association-affiliated chapter. You will find local chapters all over the United States. To find a chapter near you, visit Once you start speaking professionally, set your sites on becoming a member of National Speakers Association. For information on membership requirements, go to

You must deliver more than motivation. Motivation is the tool for opening the hearts and minds of your audience so they can incorporate your ideas or advice into their lives. The person who hired you is paying for you to deliver tools that will help their audience take their performance to the next level. They count on you to have the most up-to-date information on your topic and that means constantly honing your expertise.

If you speak, you must write. The written word can be a powerful marketing and profit-generation tool. Get into the habit of writing on your topic 15 to 30 minutes a day. Turn that writing into an e-zine and you have a reason to contact your target clients periodically. Turn that collection of e-zine articles into a book. When youíre ready to publish, Soar with Eagles can help you quickly create a profitable book. Click here for more information.

Understand your market. Take the time to learn who your target audience is as you develop your programs and write for them. In this process, make sure it is an audience who will pay to hear your message. You may have a heart for motivating the homeless but you will probably make more money motivating corporate audiences. If you insist on speaking to an audience that cannot afford to pay you, you may want to go after sponsorships and grants to cover your fees and expenses to address your preferred target audience.

Speak for free as often as possible in the beginning to sharpen your skills and your message. Developing a solid program and platform skills will push up your value. When you begin asking for a fee, it will be easier to get the fee you command because of your experience.

Donít quit your day job just yet. It takes about five years of consistent, focused business development for a professional speaker to make a good living. Only a small fraction of the professional speakers make a decent living at all. Itís probably one of the toughest businesses.

Write and record. Speakers have the capacity to make a fantastic living selling product in the back of the room at their programs. They sell their books and audio recordings on their websites and in book stores. As soon as your get your topic defined, write articles and books. Products give you the opportunity to share your expertise through different venues. Many audience members rush to the product table after the program is done to take home a piece of the motivating message they just heard.

Invest in the right marketing tools. Todayís speaker needs a one sheet (an informational piece about their programs), a website, direct mail pieces, publicity photos, and products like books, videos, and CDs. This stuff costs money and you canít skimp on your image. Benchmark other speakers. Soar with Eagles has added a line of services for new and established speakers to provide them the right tools for marketing themselves. They are cost-effective options and the process is managed by professionals who work with the speakers and speaker bureaus. Click here to learn more.

Invest in your image. A sharp image sells before people hear your message. We recommend Brian Meredith of Black Label Photography ( in Springdale, Arkansas. We also recommend Kathryn Lowell of Image Matters ( in Bentonville, Arkansas for image consulting.

Hopefully this answered your basic questions. While the speaking professional is a tough, tough business, it is exciting and full of generous, sharing people. The successful speakers are some of the most savvy business people around.

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