How to Become a Motivational Speaker (Even If You Don’t Know Where to Start)
Recently I was flying from California to Oklahoma. I had an excess of frequent flyer miles and I was yearning for a warm toilette, so I upgraded to first class.
Midway over Nevada, the gentleman reclined in the seat next to me asked the obligatory, “So…what do you do for a living?”
I pulled out my earplugs, lifted up my sleeping mask, turned my head toward him, and said, “Ahm ah shpee-kuhr”.
I pulled the nightguard out of my mouth and tried again…
“I’m a motivational speaker. I travel all over the world speaking to students, parents, and educators.”
A cartoon light bulb seemed to appear over the man’s head. He returned his seat to its full upright and locked position.
“You’re a motivational speaker? That sounds exciting! At least a lot more exciting than selling airtime at radio stations like I do.”
Inwardly I agreed. Outwardly I motivational-speakered® him:
“All work is important,” I said. “And professional speaking definitely has it’s share of challenges. But I think it’s the best job in the world because I get to make a difference and make a living doing something I love.”
He looked up at the little reading light above him. “Y’know – my whole life I’ve wanted to do something like what you do. But I’d heard there wasn’t any money in it so I went into sales instead.”
He looked back at me. “You said you make a living at it?”
I nodded at him. He leaned in closer, practically whispering.
“So how’d you become a motivational speaker?”
[PAUSE] For the next few moments I want you to imagine that YOU are the person sitting next to me.
You’ve just asked me the same question the man did. I’d love to tell you how to make a serious impact and income through speaking.
THE HEART IS THE START
The first thing you need to understand is that a stage isn’t built for the speaker; it’s built for the audience.
A stage allows the audience to see the speaker so they can get the most value from the presentation.
My point is, being a motivational speaker isn’t about you. It’s about your audience and how you can best serve them.
It’s critical to understand that because the stakes can be high.
One time after I spoke at a large high school, a student came up and handed me his suicide note. He said he decided not to go through with it because something I said pointed towards a different potential future.
My point is, if you’re looking for a fast track to money and fame, please stop reading this and get back to Photoshopping your selfies.
But if you genuinely want to inspire and empower people, keep reading.
The second thing you should know is that building your own speaking business takes a lot of hard work. There will be times when you will want to give up. Your parents or spouse or uncle Gilbert will wonder out loud about your sanity. And when you’re first getting started, the whole thing can feel really overwhelming.
But the what’s great about speaking is knowing your hard work ties directly to stuff that matters. You’re not just moving widgets around – you’re helping people overcome self-imposed obstacles and realize their potential.
Yes, you might go to bed feeling bone-weary after a long-haul flight, but I guarantee your heart will be soaring.
BECOME A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER – BUT WHAT ABOUT…
Maybe you’ve got some questions at this point.
Maybe you’d love to jump in with both feet, but…
- You’re wondering about your ability (“Do I have what it takes?”).
- You’re wondering about your relevance (“Am I cool enough? Smart enough? Young enough? Old enough?”).
- You’re wondering about the topic you care about most (“Do people really want to hear about this?”).
- Or like the man next to me on the plane, you’re wondering if could make a living at it, too.
Let me take a moment to address your concerns, starting with that last one.
Making a great living by speaking to audiences around the world really is possible. I didn’t get where I am by winning some kind of speaker-lottery. I wasn’t born with a golden microphone in mouth (that’s a thing, right?).
I built a multi-million dollar speaking business one contact at a time, one booking at a time, one well-executed speech at a time.
And that means YOU can become a motivational speaker, too…
IF you’re willing to do the work.
As far as whether you’re talented enough, young enough, old enough, confident enough, blah, blah, blah…lean in:
Your Audience Doesn’t Actually Care About That Stuff.
What they want is someone REAL – someone who has a story and idea to share.
So don’t let the fear of “not having what it takes” become an excuse not to jump in the ring.
Having trained hundreds of people on how to build a successful speaking career, I can assure you there’s room in the market for every topic, every style of presentation, and every kind of personality you can imagine.
That means if you’ve ever thought, “I’d love to talk to people about X but nobody wants to hear about X and for sure nobody wants to hear ME talk about X”, I’ve got good news:
- X is important.
- People will pay to hear a helpful speech about X.
- YOU are the best spokesperson for X b/c of your personal experience with it.
- Your heartfelt belief that other people could benefit from X, just like you did.
THE BUSINESS OF SPEAKING
The speaking business is no different from any other business. It’s made up of just three basic parts:
Yes, each of those parts represent a myriad of subtle details that can make or break your business.
The point is that being a successful speaker isn’t rocket science (no offense to actual rocket scientists). Let me show you.
Marketing is fundamentally about relationships. No one will buy a product from you if they don’t trust you. And they’ll never trust you if they don’t know you.
Simply put, marketing is how you help people get to know you so they can come to trust you so they eventually buy from you.
And the best way to do that is by adding the most value you can to your potential buyer.
For example, creating and giving away helpful content – maybe in the form of an eBook or a podcast or a blog post – will earn you trust in a hurry. It will show you are FOR your potential buyer, not just out to make a quick buck.
That’s why I make it my goal to only build and sell products or services that my audience will genuinely thank me for later.
I encourage you to do the same.
Otherwise, your marketing becomes manipulation. You start to rely on what’s attention-grabbing rather than what’s true.
Like a website’s heading that reads, “He’s the highest-rated speaker in the history of the world…ever…even greater than Winston Churchill…seriously!”
Or a mass email using scare tactics like “Your students are flunking school because they’re not listening to ME!!!”
Authenticity will win every time – even if it takes some time. So keep your marketing clear, concise and, most of all, TRUE. It will win you a large and loyal tribe of buyers.
“Sell” is a four-letter word that can make some of us avoid the hard work of building a speaking business or quit before we’re hardly started.
But in the speaking industry, all we mean by “selling” is that you’re booking the gig. In other words, you’re turning a lead into a paycheck.
And if you get your marketing materials just right, the gigs will book themselves.
Your website, a brief demo video of your speaking, some endorsements from satisfied customers – those marketing elements can do all the selling for you. And that means you won’t have to resort to manipulation, scare tactics, or strategies that just aren’t you.
But if you’re still hung up on the idea of “selling” yourself, let me ask you this: Do you believe in the importance of what you’re talking about? Do you think it could help others? Do you think you’d be a “good enough” mouthpiece for your message?
If you answered yes to those questions, then I want you to hear me: This isn’t about salesmanship. It’s about stewardship.
Because if you’ve got a message you think could benefit others but aren’t doing everything you can to get the word out, then you’re holding back information that could change a person’s life.
So don’t be selfish.
Stand up, stop worrying, and boldly share what’s inside of you.
Delivery simply means “rocking the stage”. It means bringing the very best of YOU to every moment of your speech. It means crushing it on stage so that lives get changed in the seats.
And I’ll be honest – it’s a whole lot of fun.
Sure, I still get nervous before every talk – even after all these years. (I’m guessing you can relate.)
But here’s the thing: When you know your speech inside and out and you’re convinced what you’ve got to say has value, the nerves fade pretty quick. And they get replaced by the thrill of knowing what you love to do is exactly what someone needs to hear.
When we landed, the man I was chatting with handed me his card.
“Thanks for the chat, Josh,” he said. “And who knows? Maybe I’ll become a motivational speaker in the near future.”
We shook hands and walked off the plane, heading our separate ways.
Then I ran back into the plane because I’d forgotten my nightguard.
IT’S YOUR TURN
I’ve heard it said “you don’t need a map if you’ve got a guide.” I like that. But it makes me wonder: What if you could have both the map and the guide?
Wouldn’t having BOTH give you the best possible chance for success? I think so. That’s why I want YOU to have both.
And here’s how I can help you get them:
Every year, I train scores of people all over the world on how to build a successful speaking business. The students that have applied the insight I’ve gained through 15 years of speaking have been making a huge dent in the world. And many are making a huge income, as well.
Face it – you’ve been wanting to do something like this for as long as you can remember. You feel like you’ve got a message that people need to hear and you suspect you wouldn’t be half bad at delivering that message. Maybe you’d even be great.
All you need is:
1. a map showing the best route to speaking success.
2. a guide that will walk you through the steps to make sure reach your destination.
Well, guess what? I made you a map.
Video #1: Craft your message for maximum influence
Video #2: Deliver your message with confidence
Video #3: Build a thriving, lucrative speaking business
I want to be the guide on your journey to speaking success.
I want to share with you everything I’ve learned about the speaking business so you can avoid the distractions and detours. I want to introduce you to other experts in the field that will help boost your results like crazy. I want to connect you to honest-to-goodness speaking leads so you can start booking your first paying gigs FAST.
Thanks for your time and the “in-flight” conversation. I hope you feel better equipped to become a motivational speaker.