Exploring this Job
To get a sense of what this career is like, you should take advantage of public speaking opportunities while in school. Participate in school plays to gain experience and skills performing in front of an audience. If your school has a speech or debate team, join and work on your speaking and debate skills. You will have to prepare your own argument and deliver it in front of people, including judges that are evaluating your delivery, use of eye contact, and overall performance.
Read magazines such as Speaker, which is published by the National Speaker Association, to learn about hot topics and developments within the profession. Visit https://speakermagazine.com to learn more.
Motivational speakers are hired to speak on a variety of topics, depending on their audience and specialty. They may talk about overcoming alcohol or drug abuse, achieving athletic success, developing business skills, coping with change, communicating with others, welcoming diversity, dealing with gender issues, protecting self-esteem, negotiating with a boss, improving performance, handling relationships, adjusting to retirement/aging, or managing stress—to name a few. Many speakers talk about how they overcame an obstacle and how others can do the same. They speak to young students, single parents, business professionals, school administrators, or any other group looking for advice and motivation.
Speakers are concerned with more than just delivering their speech. They have to prepare for the talk weeks or even months in advance, rehearsing their delivery and pinpointing their message to their specific audience.
On the day of their speech, motivational speakers usually arrive at the location early to make sure that everything is in place. Some speakers like to use microphones, while others are able to project their voice without using one. Some motivational speakers like to walk around while speaking and may require a cordless microphone, while others are more comfortable standing at a podium. All these details have to be worked out in advance to make sure the speech goes smoothly.
Speaking in public is something many people dislike, even fear, doing. But motivational speakers have to speak in front of audiences large and small on a regular basis. They have to sound confident, knowledgeable, and compassionate with their listeners. They must make any performance fears that they have work for them—adding energy to their speech instead of nervousness.
Most importantly, motivational speakers must be engaging. Speakers shouldn't speak to or at their audience; they should speak with them. Everyone has faced hardships in life. For this reason, motivational speakers try to relate to their audience members' experiences on some level. While speaking about overcoming obstacles such as depression, drug abuse, or joblessness, speakers may use funny, touching, or shocking stories from their own lives to connect with their listeners.