The Anatomy of a Motivational Speech

iStock 000007308783XSmallWould you like to be able to communicate like a polished, highly-paid professional speaker? Imagine the impact you can make if you were able to engage and inspire any group of people with your ability to speak and persuade like a pro. While the style of motivational speakers vary, there are 4 components of every professional speaker’s speech that consistently creates a motivational environment. It’s something you can learn and implement into your next speech or presentation.

It’s important to understand that a “motivational speech” only temporarily creates an environment that supports motivation. If you have read any of my blog post or my book, you know that my view of “motivating people” focuses on creating an environment that unleashes a person’s natural motivation for healthy and positive motivation. So the way a person communicates creates an environment that can either support or hinder the motivation of each listener.

Here are the 4 components of a motivational speech.

Relationship – Create a relationship with the audience as soon as possible. You can do this by telling a story about yourself that helps people know and relate to you. I brought John Maxwell in to my company to speak to a group of leaders a few months ago. He began his talk by connecting with the audience using a humorous story about the meaning of life. Then he talked about how much he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. This gave the perception that he is down-to-earth and he gained a great deal of credibility with the audience. Be real, connect with people, and smile.

Competence – Communicate your confidence in the audience’s ability to be successful in their goals and actions. Don’t stop here though. If you are communicating a course of action, a goal, or persuading the group to make a change, you might want to utilize a story of how others have succeeded in a similar situation. Utilize stories of other people similar to those in your audience including regular people who overcame obstacles, worked hard, and succeeded in reaching a goal.

Meaningfulness – Help the audience to connect their personal values with the benefits of the action you are trying to move your audience towards. One of the best ways to do this is to help people envision an outcome or achievement that has purpose. Help people paint a picture of themselves acting with purpose and achieving meaningful outcomes.

Energy – The last thing you want to be is boring. Nobody is inspired or motivated by someone with great content, yet has little passion or energy for the information being presented. Some people in your audience already possess their own positive and high energy level, but others don’t. From the moment you begin interacting with your audience (even before the speech starts), bring them energy that is upbeat and positive. Refuse to use negative, sad, or depressing stories. Utilize voice modulation, facial expressions (smiling, raising eye brows), eye contact, gesturing, and open body movement to allow people to both hear and see your passion and energy. This kind of energy is engaging and contagious.

Motivational speakers intentionally utilize these proven components to engage, motivate, and inspire their audiences. Implementing these components into your speeches and presentations can also help you move your audience to a higher motivational state.

8 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Motivational Speech”

  1. I was searching for the best way to give a motivational speech and your site popped up in my scrapebox window on the top section, so I thought I’d check you out. I had actually heard of your site before but can’t place it, still, you’re bookmarked now!

    I digress…I have been told in the past that I am a very good speaker and so have been looking at the motivational speaking rounds but did not know where to start, your post above is a great starting point and breaks down the speech into the important parts that are needed.

    I have lots of energy but it is very hard to keep those levels up in an hour long speech. Here’s my tip; I think of it as a stage role, all those acting classes in school come in handy when you’re up there talking for a long time. I picture myself as someone else up there and things tend to go smoother – do you think this is wise thing to do?

    • Thank you for your comment. I certainly think stage techniques can be utilized while speaking. Some of the best speakers have acting and stage performance backgrounds and this aids their physical presence and use of voice. Having said this, the speakers that carry the best communicating energy have a passion for the topic and are able to keep the energy high whether they are speaking for 30 minutes or teaching an all-day class. Utilizing too much acting can come across as fake or “over-trying” to an audience. Passion and purpose for what you have to say is an activator of energy and helps you connect with people in a genuine way.

  2. I’m giving a speech to my small but needy workforce just before the new year and your post and site have become very helpful to me. Is your book available as an e-book so I can download it straight away? I think the problem I might face after reading through the post is the relationship part because most of them know me quite well but I guess I could create a new me!

    • Yes, my book is available as a ebook via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website. Relationship is key, as you make changes in the way you interact, I believe you will see people respond and become more receptive of you and your ideas.

  3. I must admit that everything you have written here is absolutely true, I could never be a motivational speaker myself but I have seen a few and fully respect them for their confidence and energy. Energy being the most important word in my opinion, it’s always good to see someone who excites the audience through their energy. I would hate to watch a motivational speaker who had no charisma or excitement to them. Great piece!

    • Thanks for your comment K. While I think most people DO NOT want to be a quote “motivational speaker” because of the stigma and lack of opportunities of this kind of profession, I believe many people and leaders would love to be more motivational and inspiring in the way the communicate and present in their day-to-day dealings with others. I bet you could be and are at times motivating and inspiring to the people around you. Especially when you are talking about something for which you have passion! Best of luck.

      • Dr. Jones, please expound on the following statement … most people DO NOT want to be a quote “motivational speaker” because of the stigma and lack of opportunities of this kind of profession,…

        • msjen, over the past several years the title of “motivational speaker” has come under fire. Businesses and conferences no longer seek motivational speakers as they have a stigma of not providing solid, actionable content. Just rah rah. Instead they are looking for speakers that are experts, have solid content, and creates an environment of energy and motivation. As for lack of opportunity… it is a very difficult field to make a living.

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