How to Become a Motivational Speaker – It’s Not What You Think

I'm a professional speaker. My presentations primarily focus on leadership, corporate culture, and employee engagement.

With that said, when people find out about the work I do, most respond by saying something like, “So, you're a motivational speaker?” (I even had this conversation last week with an acquaintance I've known for 5 years.)

I used to resist the “motivational speaker” tagline because I didn't want to be associated with the Matt Foley character from SNL. But over the years I've learned to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to explain what I actually do.

(GIF credit: @nbcsnl via

During these conversations, I'm often asked how one becomes a motivational or business speaker. My answer usually raises eyebrows because what separates wannabe speakers from professionals isn't what you might think. It’s not talent. It’s not your message. It's not even ambition.

So what is? The key to becoming a professional speaker is to get out of your head and take action. That's it!

If you've been thinking about being a speaker or trainer but haven't taken any action yet, here is a framework you can use to get out of your head and start moving forward.

How to Become a Motivational Speaker — It's Not What You Think

Clearly Define Your Success. What does success as a motivational speaker or trainer look like to you? Some people focus on impact. Others believe it’s primarily about income. Could your success embrace both?

  • IMPACT: Successful speakers deliver more than solid content. They are agents of transformation.
  • INCOME: A lot of wannabe speakers say they're not concerned about the money; they just want to make an impact. Yet if you're not getting booked, it's hard to have any kind of significant impact.

Envision Your Success Forward. Most wannabe speakers have plenty of ideas about their presentations. But too often those ideas stay stuck in their heads. The best way to get these ideas out of your head is to develop a clear picture of what you want your business to look like 3 years from now. What industries do you want to speak in? Who will be in your audience? Who are the decision-makers that will hire you?

Aim Your Success Forward. This is where you really gain momentum. Yet, this is also where many new speakers hit a roadblock. They stay in their head trying to determine who to reach out to, how to best reach out to these people, how to package their services, and how to set fees. Don't get stuck in your head. Get moving instead!

The best way to get moving is to invest in yourself. Find the best speaker training or mastermind community possible. And make sure you look for a community that focuses not only on how to present but also on how to build and grow your speaking business. Nothing will get you out of your head and moving faster than a mastermind community that helps you with the business side of speaking.

Speak Your Success Forward. Once you know the right steps to follow, the key is consistency and stick-to-it-tiveness. Work your system and your system will work for you!

As you can see, becoming a motivational speaker isn't primarily about talent, message, or ambition. The key to how to become a motivational speaker is to get out of your head and take action. That’s what makes the difference.

Photography Copyright: depositphotos / SergeyNivens

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