A motivational speaker can change a life.
Using the power of spoken word, a great public speaker can show an audience a new way to tackle problems in their life, or give them the inspiration they need to find their passions.
If public speaking is something you think you’d be good at, and you think you have a unique idea or way to approach the world, you might want to try your hand at motivational speaking.
Becoming a successful speaker is more than just having a clear speaking voice, however.
It takes work — a lot of work.
In this article, we’ll give you a starting guide to launching your public speaking career.
We’ll show you how to find a niche, and the best ways to prepare for speaking in front of a crowd.
We’ll then guide you on how to market yourself, and give you some pointers on how to start booking appearances.
By the end, you should be prepared to start your journey toward a new career as a motivational speaker.
- Finding a Niche
- Preparing for Public Speaking
- Marketing Yourself
- Start Booking
- Change the World by Motivating People
Finding a Niche
Becoming a motivational speaker is about finding a niche.
This is your unique calling card, your way of standing out from the crowd.
You may rely on your own personal narrative to craft a compelling message, or a unique way of tackling problems.
The best way to know if you have a unique offering is to understand the world you want to inhabit.
Watch and Listen to Everything
If you want to succeed as a motivational speaker, you need to know what other motivational speakers are offering.
Watch speeches online.
Watch TED Talks.
Subscribe to motivational podcasts.
Read blogs written by successful motivational speakers.
Look up people who have launched a motivational speaking business and see if they’ll let you pick their brain.
Google inspirational speakers like Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy, and see how they got their starts.
Learn as much as you can, and then you’ll not only learn what makes a great speaker, but you’ll understand how you can fit into this world with your own unique offering.
Write Down Everything
Get in the habit of getting all of your ideas down on the page.
Think about the speaking engagements you want to give, and what you love to talk about.
Think about what you want to help people with — do you want to focus on their jobs?
Their personal relationships?
Start tracking your own thoughts on these topics, and how you want to help people solve common issues they may face.
Eventually, you’ll notice some themes start to develop.
Find Your Hook
You’ve surveyed the landscape, watched dozens (or even hundreds) of pros on speaking gigs.
You’ve filled notebooks with your thoughts about the world, and dug deep into the type of speaker you want to be.
Now it’s time to find your hook.
This will be your unique offering to the world.
This should be framed in two ways:
1. Here are common problems that need solving
2. Here’s why your unique background can help people solve them
These can be broad topics, possibly, but even better are specific ones.
Especially at the start.
Telling someone “I turned my life around and so can you” is broadly applicable, but lacks specificity or your story.
Telling someone “I launched a successful social media startup in 60 days and I can show you how to do it” is a unique promise that will get people excited.
Preparing for Public Speaking
You may already feel comfortable talking in front of a crowd, but mastering presentation skills takes hard work.
Public speaking abilities require more than a strong voice — it’s a total-body art form that can take years and years to master.
Professional speakers know how to get a point across.
But truly great speakers know how and when to employ eye contact, and how to win over a crowd using only their body language.
It’s no accident that guys like Tony Robbins are referred to as “rock stars” — they use public speaking to not only get a message across, but to entertain and thrill a crowd.
Try Public Speaking Classes
A class can be a fantastic way to refine your public speaking skills.
Local colleges will often offer classes on the subject, and public speaking groups may be available locally.
They’ll help you with your body language, and give you pointers on how to handle a situation if you don’t have a microphone at the venue.
(Get ready to project with that booming voice of yours.)
These classes will give you tips and tricks to approaching public speaking, but they’ll also help you by giving you experience speaking in front of people.
Speaking of which …
Put Yourself Out There
Half the battle of public speaking is feeling comfortable and loose in front of crowds, so to succeed as a motivational speaker, you need to put yourself in those situations.
Take an improv class.
Go to a comedy open-mic night.
You need to conquer your fears before you help other people conquer their fears.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve found your niche, and started working on the talk you want to give.
You’ve learned some basic skills, but now you need to get better.
Film yourself and review the tape.
Practice in front of friends.
Be open to feedback, as well.
If a friend tells you a certain part is confusing, or drags on too long, cut it or change it.
A speech is meant for an audience, so trust your audience.
If they aren’t getting it, it’s not on them, it’s on you.
Also: Time yourself and make sure your talk falls within the allotted time you want to hit (or will be given), and then time yourself again to make sure you’re consistently giving the speech in the time allotted.
Being a great speaker is one thing, but it won’t matter much if no one knows who you are.
One of the biggest keys to becoming a successful public speaker is knowing how to market yourself.
Build a Social Media Presence
Want to reach people?
There’s no faster way to do so than through social media.
Get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and start following and connecting with other people in the space.
Start a blog.
Share your story and reply to people interested in what you have to say.
Building a community takes time, but if you’re diligent and take pride in it, you can build a strong online community of people who want to hear what you have to say.
Start a Podcast
Launching your own podcast has never been easier, and can be a great way to organically build audience, and see how your idea and approach can adapt over time.
Sites like Art19 and Soundcloud will allow you to record and publish podcasts, then distribute them via the Apple Store, Spotify, and other platforms.
Make a Demo Video
A demo video can show potential speaking engagements who you are and what you are about.
While it may not be in front of a large crowd, it can show people your basic approach and help them understand what you offer. It’s also vitally important for self improvement — a demo video allows you to study yourself, and be honest about what you can improve on.
You’ve got your hook.
You’ve worked on your delivery.
You’ve taken improv classes and public speaking classes and feel comfortable in front of people.
It’s time to get out there.
First off, start telling everyone you know that you’re willing to speak.
Word-of-mouth is an underrated way of getting your name out there, and can often be what gets you connected with a potential speaking engagement.
Then, start reaching out to organizations.
If a local business group does a TED Talk-inspired night of sharing, let them know you’d love to participate.
Call up a local high school and explain how you could inspire their student body with your talk.
It all starts with one gig.
Inspire a few people, and you’ll move on to the next one.
Change the World by Motivating People
If you have overcome a serious obstacle in your life and want to help others do the same, you’ve got the makings for what it takes to be a successful motivational speaker.
It all starts with a story, or a program, or a new way of thinking about the world.
Then comes the work.
If you’re willing to work hard to refine your idea and make sure it stands out, and willing to master your public speaking skills, you’ll be on your way.
If you’re willing to work tirelessly to market yourself, and ruthless in your self-critique, you’ll start developing a powerful talk that people will want to hear.
Then it’s just about booking that first gig, and you’re off and running, ready to change the world.