Home » How to Become a Motivational Speaker—That’s Not Cheesy & Derivative

How to Become a Motivational Speaker—That’s Not Cheesy & Derivative

If you want to learn how to become a motivational speaker, but cringe at the idea of sounding just like every other motivational speaker, you’re in the right place.

There are only so many times you can get up in front of a crowd and take the Shia LaBeouf approach, forcefully telling the audience to “Just Do It!”

Just Do It giphy

It’s not that his approach is terrible, but it very much only speaks to a certain type of audience. The type who needs to be told to get over it, and get it done. And while this might work for many, the messaging from many motivational speakers nowadays lies in the same idea. So it often makes any newcomers to the field sound as if they don’t have much to offer that the audience hasn’t already heard.

It becomes derivative.

Even cheesy.

And even worse…cliché.

But you want to do this. You have a knack for getting people motivated but aren’t sure how to take these ideas and small-time successes to a broader audience without sounding like a try-hard. Plus…you do actually want to make a difference in others’ lives.

That’s what we’ll cover here—how to become a motivational speaker effectively:

  1. Certification?
  2. Qualifications?
  3. Steps to do it
  4. Examples of speakers

Do you need to be certified to become a motivational speaker?

No, you do not need to be certified to be a motivational speaker. Unlike certain professions that require specific certifications or qualifications, such as doctors or lawyers, there is no official certification process for becoming a motivational speaker.

Motivational speaking is more about your ability to inspire and motivate others through your words and stories. However, gaining experience, honing your speaking skills, and building a strong personal brand are important factors in becoming a successful motivational speaker.

There are some places that will sell or preach about motivational speaking certifications, but they’ll try to teach you the same methodology. This just creates speakers who are all the same, which is exactly what you don’t want if you’re learning how to become a motivational speaker. There are better ways of going about it, which we’ll cover below.

Plus, you will still need to build credibility in various ways if you want people to pay to see you speak. But this is more about qualifications than it is a special certification.

Do you need special qualifications to be a motivational speaker?

There are no specific qualifications required to become a motivational speaker. Technically, anyone can hop on stage and start encouraging others with the hopes of that being good enough to be labeled motivational speaking.

However, certain attributes and skills can greatly enhance your effectiveness in this role, and your audience will be looking for some sort of validation that you are someone they want to learn from.

So it’s beneficial to possess some of these skills:

  1. Expertise or Life Experience: Having a deep knowledge of a subject or life experience that is valuable to others can make you more credible and engaging as a motivational speaker.
  2. Public Speaking Skills: Strong communication skills, the ability to engage an audience, and effective storytelling are all essential for a motivational speaker. This is one that can be learned with the right speaking coach.
  3. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Understanding the emotions and experiences of your audience can help you connect with them on a deeper level and make your message more impactful.
  4. Authenticity and Passion: Being genuine and passionate about your message can help you connect with your audience and inspire them to take action.
  5. Adaptability: Being able to tailor your message to different audiences and situations can help you reach a wider range of people. But, if you craft your message effectively, it’ll be easier to just attract the right audience instead of altering your messaging entirely.

While formal qualifications are not necessary, many successful motivational speakers have backgrounds in fields like psychology, coaching, or business, and may have completed training programs or courses to enhance their skills. They have done something and have come from somewhere that helps “sell” their ability to motivate. It gives people a reason to want to learn from you.

Ultimately, what matters most is your ability to inspire and motivate others, regardless of your background or qualifications.

How to Become a Motivational Speaker and Get Paid Well

When you become a motivational speaker, you often become the keynote speaker of certain events. Not always, and they’re not the same thing necessarily.

That said, it’s important to think of your speaking career as if you will be the “star” of the show. Meaning, focus on crafting your material as if everyone has come to see you specifically, and you’ll be well on your way to learning how to become a motivational speaker.

These steps will help you get there.

1. Identify Your Audience

Who you’re speaking to will dictate much of the messaging and other parts of the process to become a motivational speaker. Most of this involves understanding who will be most helped by your own experiences. Because your speeches will come from a place of experience, it’s worth jotting down who you were at the time when you went through the most change.

This is to say, who were you prior to becoming who you are now?

That’s often the best way to find your audience.

Additionally, determine what specific topic or area you want to focus on as a motivational speaker. This could be personal development, leadership, career advancement, or any other area where you have expertise or a compelling story to share.

2. Develop Your Motivational Message

This is where you differentiate yourself from others. The “just do it” mentality can work, but will it work for your audience? Here’s where you get to prepare your speech, deciding what you’ll say and how to say it.

You’ll want to craft a clear and impactful message that resonates with your target audience. Your message should be authentic, inspiring, and offer practical value to your audience.

What is the specific angle you’ll take in order to motivate? What are you motivating others to do? Where are your audiences stuck that they need someone else to help them move forward?

Here are a few tips to help with this stage, especially if you don’t want to come off as derivative:

  1. Tell Your Story: Share personal anecdotes, experiences, and challenges that have shaped your journey. Your story is what makes you unique and can help you connect with your audience on a deeper level. It’s your perspective that makes you unique, which requires you to dig deep and get vulnerable.
  2. Offer a Fresh Perspective: Bring a new or unconventional viewpoint to your message. Challenge conventional thinking and offer insights that inspire your audience to see things differently. What is a common way motivational speakers often tell their audience to take action? How can you take a different angle, and even confront that method?
  3. Provide Practical Advice: Offer actionable advice, tips, and strategies that your audience can implement in their own lives. Make your message practical and relevant to their everyday experiences.
  4. Use Humor and Creativity: Incorporate humor, creativity, and storytelling techniques to make your message engaging and memorable. Use rhetorical devices in your speech — like metaphors, analogies, and vivid imagery to convey your ideas.
  5. Be Authentic: Stay true to yourself and your values. Authenticity builds trust and credibility with your audience and makes your message more relatable.
  6. Inspire Hope and Positivity: Motivate your audience by inspiring hope, positivity, and a sense of possibility. Focus on the potential for growth, change, and improvement.
  7. Use Powerful Language: Use language that is vivid, evocative, and impactful. Choose words that resonate with your audience and evoke emotion.
  8. Connect Emotionally: Tap into the emotions of your audience to create a connection. Inspire them with stories of perseverance, resilience, and triumph over adversity.
  9. Be Memorable: Leave a lasting impression on your audience by delivering your message with passion, enthusiasm, and conviction. Make your closing remarks so compelling that it sticks with them long after your speech is over.

Crafting the message is often the hardest part. That is to say, it will come from a deep and vulnerable place that’s sometimes difficult for someone to come about on their own. But this is also what people will pay the most for.

Not all of us are speechwriters, which is why even the most skilled still take up coaching or work with writers to craft their message.

3. Hone Your Speaking Skills

Practice your speaking skills regularly to become a more confident and effective speaker. Consider joining a Toastmasters club or taking public speaking courses to improve your skills.

A lot of this has to do with getting practice and gaining confidence on the stage. But there’s more to it as well.

We have some tips here based on what we’ve learned analyzing TED talks. It can help set the groundwork for how to become a better speaker.

Here are a few things you can work on to build your speaking skills, especially for motivational speakers:

  1. Clarity: Speak clearly and concisely to ensure your message is easily understood.
  2. Confidence: Project confidence through your posture, tone of voice, and body language.
  3. Engagement: Keep your audience engaged by using storytelling, asking questions, and involving them in your speech.
  4. Organization: Structure your speech in a logical manner with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
  5. Eye Contact: Maintain eye contact with your audience to build rapport and convey sincerity.
  6. Voice Modulation: Use variation in your tone, pitch, and volume to keep your audience interested.
  7. Body Language: Use open and expressive body language to convey your message effectively, including hand gestures and movement around the stage. Just be careful not to overdo it!
  8. Listening Skills: Be attentive to your audience’s reactions and adjust your speech accordingly.
  9. Adaptability: Be flexible and able to adjust your speech based on the needs and dynamics of the audience.
  10. Passion: Speak with passion and enthusiasm to inspire and motivate your audience.

One of the best things you can do if you want to learn how to become a motivational speaker is to get feedback from a coach or those qualified in speaker training. You can also check out these exercises for speakers to learn more.

4. Build Your Brand

Create a professional brand that reflects your expertise and message. This includes developing a professional website, creating marketing materials, and establishing a strong online presence.

As a motivational speaker, your brand is you and the message you’ll continuously go back to.

That is to say, craft your marketing material around how you motivate people to create change in their lives. Keep the energy and branding consistent across many mediums, including your website and social profiles, especially if you’re trying to learn how to grow on Instagram.

The more you share your perspective, get speaking engagements, and affirm yourself in the space around your motivational tactic of choice, the more your personal brand will be solidified.

5. Create Compelling Content

Develop engaging content that showcases your expertise and resonates with your audience. This could include blog posts, videos, podcasts, or other forms of content that demonstrate your knowledge and passion.

While there’s an array of choices for sharing content, it should all cycle around your core message and principles.

This isn’t to say it all has to be the same content saying the same thing. But rather, to focus on saying the same thing many ways and through many mediums. Position yourself as a thought leader in the motivational speaking space and continue sharing your voice.

Oftentimes, it’s best to choose a certain platform to go all-in on. Likewise, focus on understanding what your audience likes, where they’re spending time, and analyze the data to continue serving what brings you growth.

6. Network and Build Relationships

Attend industry events, leadership conferences, and networking events to connect with other speakers, event planners, and potential clients. Building relationships is key to getting speaking engagements. The more people you meet, the more opportunities may present themselves for practicing your speeches.

Be open to working with other people—even other people learning how to become a motivational speaker.

This isn’t a competition. While some may say it is, there’s room for many motivational speakers. For example, do you know of anyone who only follows a single person to gain motivation and inspiration? No. Therefore, there’s room to work with other speakers to grow your platforms.

7. Negotiate Your Pay

As you gain experience and credibility, you can start charging higher fees for your speaking engagements. Be prepared to negotiate with event organizers and be clear about your value proposition.

If you really want to get paid as much as possible, work on securing a spot on a highly known, reputable stage.

Getting a TEDx talk is a great place to start, for example. This stage is popular, creates exposure, and automatically gives you the credibility often needed to negotiate a higher rate for other speaking gigs.

Additionally, you can use some of these tips for negotiating pay for being a motivational speaker:

  1. Know Your Worth: Research industry standards and typical fees for motivational speakers in your niche. Consider your experience, expertise, audience size, and the value you provide when determining your worth.
  2. Be Clear About Your Fees: Clearly communicate your fees and what is included in your speaking package. Provide a detailed breakdown of your services, such as keynote speech, workshops, travel expenses, and any additional services you offer.
  3. Highlight Your Value: Emphasize the benefits of hiring you as a speaker and the unique value you bring to the event. Share testimonials, case studies, and examples of past successful engagements to demonstrate your impact.
  4. Negotiate from a Position of Strength: Be confident in your abilities and the value you provide. Avoid underselling yourself or compromising on your fees unless it aligns with your long-term goals.
  5. Be Flexible: While it’s important to know your worth, be open to negotiation and willing to be flexible with your fees based on the event budget, audience size, and other factors. Consider offering discounts for multiple bookings or early bookings.
  6. Focus on Win-Win Solutions: Approach negotiations with a mindset of finding a mutually beneficial solution. Listen to the needs and concerns of the event organizers and work together to find a fair arrangement.
  7. Get It in Writing: Once you’ve agreed on the terms, make sure to get the agreement in writing. This helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that both parties are clear on the terms of the engagement.

8. Continuously Improve

Stay updated on industry trends, continue to develop your speaking skills, and seek feedback from your audience to continuously improve your craft. Utilize groups like Toastmasters or other communities—like ours—to learn and grow. One of the best ways to improve your craft is to get as much practice as you can.

That includes taking free speaking gigs in addition to the ones that pay.

At the end of the day, hiring a coach and working with a professional may be the most effective method to improve enough that you can make this a full-time job.

Examples of Motivational Speakers & What You Can Learn

If you want to be impactful as a motivational speaker, you have to learn what it takes to get there.

The best way to do that is to learn from those who have already done it. Therefore, studying the world’s best in the motivation department is sure to help.

That is to say, study these speakers to learn their ways:

  1. Tony Robbins: Known for his dynamic speaking style and expertise in personal development and peak performance.
  2. Les Brown: Known for his inspirational messages and expertise in overcoming obstacles and achieving success.
  3. Zig Ziglar: Known for his motivational speeches and expertise in sales training and personal development.
  4. Eric Thomas: Known for his powerful storytelling and expertise in motivation and success coaching.
  5. Nick Vujicic: Known for his inspiring story of overcoming physical disabilities and his message of hope and resilience.
  6. Brian Tracy: Known for his expertise in personal and professional development, including goal setting and time management.
  7. Jim Rohn: Known for his philosophy on personal development and success, including his emphasis on self-discipline and goal setting.
  8. Lisa Nichols: Known for her empowering messages and expertise in personal development and achievement.
  9. Mel Robbins: Known for her practical advice on overcoming fear and achieving goals, especially through her “5 Second Rule” technique.
  10. Simon Sinek: Known for his insights into leadership and motivation, especially his concept of “Start With Why.”

Learning how to become a motivational speaker will take time. It’s not an overnight decision, but something that can take years to fully cultivate both the right messaging, and the right following. We’re here to support in the way we know best.

Free Public Speaker Training, hosted by TEDx speaker Taylor Conroy, click here to save your free spot


Bella Rose Pope
I'm a multi-creative in pursuit of doing exactly whatever I want in life. Former speaker of book things, fiction author in progress, life figure-outer in progress, societal rule breaker extraordinaire. Smells like: homemade bread, book paper, potted plants, & potential.

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