Be a Motivational Speaker

These speakers make us get out of our chairs and DO something. Let us examine some of the things that the motivational speaker needs to consider.

Martin Luther King. Eva Peron. Winston Churchill. Robert Menzies. And, dare I say it? Adolf Hitler. These are all great examples of motivational speakers who had the ability to deliver ordinary words in a way that could inspire their audiences.

Motivational Factors

Below are some examples of things the motivational speaker needs to consider.

  • You need to explain to your audience why what you intend presenting is of great value to them and how they will gain from listening to your message. In other words they need to believe they have a need that you can fulfil.
  • You must have credibility and a clear understanding of your topic or the product you wish to sell.
  • You need to move your audience from the known to the unknown. Build on their current level of knowledge and link what they know to the new information you wish to impart. Build them up as a group; make them feel like a team, a group of people with a common link or goal.
  • Remember – Once you have created motivation your audience will be keen to listen to your message and more importantly they will be far more likely to accept your influence and point of view.
  • Gaining attention
  • Much of motivation is about convincing people they should listen to you at all. Contrary to the belief of most new speakers, your audience is on your side. It wants you to succeed. Initially it has empathy with you; it sees itself in your shoes.

Regrettably the honeymoon period only lasts about three minutes at most, so if you haven’t got them on side by then your chance of motivating them, selling them a product or an idea, is likely to be fading fast.

Here are some factors you need to consider about those opening minutes of your speech if you are to motivate your audience to listen to your entire presentation.

  • Make your opening statement a strong one, perhaps controversial or challenging. Grab their attention!
  • Consider using a story, perhaps painting a graphic picture that will focus the collective mind of your audience.
  • A personal experience which your audience can relate to can help establish empathy.
  • A telling quotation such as the one that commences this handout can inspire your audience if delivered well.
  • Perhaps a short telling statement or a rhetorical question capturing the essence of your topic can rivet your audience’s attention.
  • Try a lengthy pause after a commanding statement. Silence can be a powerful speaking tool.
  • Consider using a visual aid.
  • Try encapsulating your message in a few well selected words and using that as your opening.
  • Be prepared to make use of drama, but beware of the possibility of coming across as lacking in sincerity.

Maintaining attention and motivating your audience

No matter what your topic, if the main aim of your speech is to motivate your audience, you will need to create, develop and maintain their interest as you progress through your presentation. To do so you will need to look at these aspects of your presentation:

  • Clearly outline the purpose of your presentation and maintain a focus on it throughout the entire presentation. Reiterate that purpose in your concluding remarks.
  • As you progress, continue to build empathy with your audience. Give them a level of comfort by reinforcing their current knowledge of your topic. To do this you will need to have researched your topic well, and the knowledge level of your audience. By marrying those two factors you will be well placed to gradually build your credibility and gain the audience’s confidence.
  • Concentrate on one central theme. Don’t deviate from your clearly established goal. If you deviate, each time you do so you will lose more of your audience as they consider the new trail you have offered them.
  • Avoid the temptation to brow-beat your audience. There is a subtle difference between motivating your audience and pressurising them or trying to lead them to conclusions to which they may be totally opposed.
  • Be realistic. If you do not have a realistic goal backed by realistic arguments you are unlikely to succeed in motivating your audience or persuading them of the value of adopting your philosophy.
  • Use, but don’t overuse, repetition as a method of reinforcing your message. Too much repetition may lead your audience to believe you have a limited or one dimensional perspective of your topic.
  • Be enthusiastic but remain realistic. Controlled enthusiasm is infectious not only between speaker and listener but between fellow audience members.
  • Make sure you use positive body language, and that you read the body language of your audience.
  • Allow your audience to participate. Interaction will enhance your message and will infect other audience members who will want to participate. Suddenly it’s not just you convincing them, you have allies!
  • Make use of your audience’s natural curiosity by revealing your aims, goals and supporting evidence steadily.
  • Recognise the audience’s pre-existing knowledge and praise them for it. Blend their knowledge with yours to show how you are growing together toward common goals or purposes.
  • As much as the complexity of your topic or argument will allow, keep things simple. More of your audience will stay tuned. The larger your target audience the better your chance of motivating them as a whole.

In conclusion

To motivate people you must have clear aims and goals. You don’t have to do it alone, history provides many role models to look at and learn from. Keep your purpose in the front of your mind. Be focussed on the desired outcome. If you are well prepared, well-rehearsed and above all believe in your topic you can succeed in motivating your audience. By utilising the above tips you can stir them to action or sell them that incredible product you have to offer. I believe that to sell anything you first have to sell yourself. Happy motivating!

Reproduced from the Rostrum publication “Tips on Public Speaking and Meeting Procedures. Vol. 1” – a collection of 30 handouts by Ron Johnson.

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