More than merely a vehicle for transporting information from their life into the lap of an audience, a motivational speaker is a vehicle for positive change. Get used to analogies, because the top motivational speakers are able to place their professional and personal life experiences into a neat arrangement of anecdotes and analogies that follow a distinct and planned out narrative aimed at inspiring, motivating and entertaining your audience.
Have you ever sat at the dinner table and told a tired story and got lost before you finished it? Maybe the story was not an exciting one, but most likely it was just not told in the right way. The audience didn't bite, they didn't perch on the edge of their seats. You have likely also stood up tall telling your favourite anecdote to a crowded room, and you are the star of the show, they are eating out of the palm of your hand.
Did you stop to examine why? Why one story worked and the other didn't? In this blog, we aim to discover the underlying traits of great inspirational speakers. First, let's take a quick look at the role the brain plays in keeping you on your toes.
The Science Behind 'Feeling Motivated'
Dopamine is the chemical hormone and neurotransmitter largely responsible for your wellbeing. Controlling emotions experienced during stories and in situations, it serves a key purpose in establishing what and how you feel. Simply spoken, dopamine is the difference between feeling low and feeling good.
Inspirational stories can, much like listening to music, eating and sleeping, help to naturally release dopamine into your brain. The more dopamine in your brain, the more likely it is to take action that will benefit you, concentrating and motivating you to achieve more.
What Does a Motivational Speaker Do to Help Unleash Our Potential?
Each story a motivational speaker tells aims to increase the dopamine in the brain of those in attendance. They work to trigger their audience into action; whatever the subject, whatever the goal of a conference. Their story of overcoming adversity or reaching the top of their field is useless to event planners if it is not told in the appropriate way.
The moments you truly connect with your audience on a human level are the moments you open up on rejection, hardship and overcoming adversity. You are preaching to a crowd that has been through some kind of hardship.
But a crowd is also impatient and optimistic - they want an ending that satisfies them. Your story must end with a transformation of some kind. No one wants to hear about the time you got rejected 15 times by a publisher unless the 16th time saw you published, creating the platform for a bestselling book. That is what makes a wonderful inspirational speaker.
Engagement is the key to any great story and there are multiple ways to engage. It doesn't mean you should blind them with questions and 'did you knows?', it simply means - make them feel something. Make them feel passionate, make them feel empowered, inspired, motivated or make them feel desolate and sad. Find the deep soul of your story or message and whatever that entails - give it dimension. The best speakers include an audience in their story - they make them care about it. How do they do that?
Passion is what drives people to live the lives they want to lead, it is what gives people a reason to wake up in the morning. And it makes a story worth listening to. A message conveyed with an underlying enthusiasm is enough to bring an event to life. Feel what you are saying and love what you are expressing and motivational speaking becomes a whole lot easier.
"You just have to find that thing that's special about you that distinguishes you from all the others, and through true talent, hard work, and passion, anything can happen." - Dr. Dre
You may remember a parent or guardian who used to say 'open your mouth when you speak' or 'don't drag your heels'. We are taught from an early age to display themes of confidence. Sometimes this is intentional, other times it is a by-product of growing up. But speaking clearly, with focus and authority is central to pushing your audience to take the action you wish to be taken. You don't have to feel confident to act that way. Motivational speakers have several tricks up their sleeves to make the whole event less daunting. One of these, and perhaps the most important is practice.
A story can fall on stony ground if it is unreliable. Truth is an essential component of engagement. If a person cannot fathom that a story is true they may fail to feel anything. Even the most elaborate tales should be founded on truth. Authenticity also applies to works of fiction. Harry Potter, for example, one of the greatest works of literature of our time: why was it so successful? Because it made 'make-belief' seem so real. The bonds between the characters were so strong and captivating that they brought to life a world of pure imagination. Which brings us onto Roald Dahl's classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who didn't want Charlie to get the golden ticket? That is not a coincidence, the backstory provided the basis for your feelings.
Now let's move from the storybooks back to the real world, and the theme is recurring. I once sat in on a sales conference at university, given by a man called Paul Owen.
Paul told us of the time he sat down at the dinner table for a family dinner. He had just been on the radio that day and was looking forward to telling his family. Barely a moment after sharing his news, a family member said: 'I was on the radio once'. After sharing their own story, another family did the same before it reached the end of the meal and not a single family member had asked him what he was doing on the radio.
The story may also show the importance of listening and understanding what people want from a conversation - a key part of sales - as was Paul's point. But as a speaker, it was the emotional connection, the reality that has been experienced by many, that made his point hit home. It was honest, it was introspective, it was wretched and it was true - the key to an emotional connection and memorable story.
Why are Inspirational & Motivational Speakers so Sought-After?
Motivational speakers are in-demand because not everyone has the time nor the experience to put together such a wealth of inspirational material capable of appealing to the emotions of an audience. Not everyone has the confidence and desire to express their knowledge and opinions to a wider audience, and not everyone possesses the authority and enthusiasm to excel as a motivational speaker. It can be taught, however, and if you want to know more about how to write a motivational speech do so by reading our blog.
It is not uncommon for motivational speakers to essentially help to rewire someone's mindset. In establishing a momentum that can be beneficial to individuals as well as collectives, they can help bridge the gap between 70% and 100%. If you are looking for a certified professional speaker with years of experience, you can book a motivational speaker to star at your event today. Looking for some inspiration? Check out 101 of the best motivational speakers today.