The Business Of Motivational Speaking: Why Should We Listen?

For my Chappelle Show fans, do you remember when Rick James said, “Cocaine is a hell of a drug.” Well, let me remix it a little, MOTIVATION is a hell of a drug! A good motivational speaker gets us in our feelings, hypes us up and makes us feel we can take on the world. There is an allure about being able to inspire the masses and see them hanging onto your every word. The art of motivation has turned into a big business and for good reason but with so many people thinking they can just get on a stage and speak, we need to start asking…”Why should we listen to you?”

You ever scroll through Instagram or Facebook and realize the accounts that only post inspirational quotes have hundreds of thousands of followers, get the most shares and thousands of “Amen” in the comments?

Motivation gives us that spike of dopamine that makes us want to go out and do something, anything, it makes us feel to just get up and do something.

The thing is, motivational speaking and social media have become synonymous with each other and we have many people who believe they can just wake up and become a motivational speaker without any real merit or story. It’s become a major business.

A quick Google search of motivational speakers salaries and its clear to see why many people want to join this illustrious field. The problem now is we have never had this many publishing platforms in our history! Anybody can get a message out there, as long as they have a smartphone and a social media account.

With every scroll, there is somebody right there with an inspirational quote or video and looking to make their name off of inspiring people but there are 4 main things that are lacking in many of these wannabe speakers. It’s why we as an audience need to start vetting the messengers more and more.

The key things missing from many speakers are these 4 things:

  • Extreme diversity or real credibility
  • They are not practitioners of tangible skills
  • Living their truth
  • Talking about the things they don’t know about

Extreme Diversity or Credibility

It used to be that we found motivation from those who overcame incredible odds and then went on to achieve something. It used to be that we found motivation from those who had credibility within a space and can come and talk to us about what they have gone out and built.

Now, we are getting overloaded with “motivation” from people who have never overcome anything of real substance. You are seeing people who are still stuck in the problems they are trying to motivate people to get out of and trying to be a motivational speaker. If you are still struggling with the problem, you cannot be a motivation speaker.

You can become one when you have found a way out and can turn around and teach/talk about what you did to overcome the problem.

Also, if you have built credibility within a space, then its natural people will always want to hear your thoughts and opinions because you have a portfolio worth talking about and it will be of great use to those who have not reached your level as yet.

Overcoming real adversity or having credibility within a space is a key ingredient to becoming a motivational speaker. Also, please don’t try to make up any struggle stories, keep in mind that there are people who know you in real life and it will always get called out.

Not Practitioners of Tangible Skills

If there is one thing I hate, is being told a whole bunch of nothing. Listening to an entire “motivational speech” and there is nothing tangible that I can take away, there are no steps or anything practical that I can go and implement.

We are seeing a major rise in empowerment events. Not to knock them because I do think they have their place and can offer tremendous value when done properly. But more and more, we are seeing events geared towards dressing up, partying, eating food, drinking and done under the guise of empowerment.

Do you know what really empowers people? Practical, tangible shit! Things that people can learn and implement to take their respective lives to the next level.

In the Caribbean, we love to party. The easiest thing to sell is a party! But now more people are throwing events to give you that dopamine feel-good hit and while you might have heard an inspiring story here and there or what mindset you need to succeed, when you really break it down and look at what you can tangibly take away, you are left with just a few feel-good moments, a full stomach and the buzz from the alcohol.

Living Their Truth

In the words of the Migos…”Walk it like ya talk it!” Mannnn…I can’t stress how crazy it is to hear people talking about doing this, that and the third, and they don’t even take their own advice.

This is why you as the audience constantly needs to evaluate the messenger before you blindly accept the message. Let’s be real, half the motivational things we see have been regurgitated, I mean inspired by someone else.

Anybody building their brands is going to be throwing quotes around all over the place…(Hello…I just referenced the Migos lol). So you constantly need to be assessing if whether or not the person you are following is walking that good walk and if everything lines up.

You will get more value from that person and you can see exactly what following them is going to get you or assist you with overtime.

Talking About Things They Don’t Know About

Now, this has to be one of the most disappointing things in the world. There have been many times, I have gone to a networking event, a talk or just got a chance to talk with someone I see doing their thing on social media and was underwhelmed at how much they did not know on the topic on which they speak about.

Listen people…it’s really easy to fake it online. It’s really easy to land a speaking gig and stick to your script. But there is no escaping a Q&A session or a 1on1 conversation in which we realize really quickly that you have no idea what you are talking about.

If you have not mastered a niche or a day to day practitioner in your niche who has seen quite a bit and can get on stage and really talk about the topics, please leave speaking alone.

The thing with motivational speaking is that we want to be inspired by your story and how you have overcome that adversity to take the world by storm. We want to hear the story of how you became an expert in your field. We want to know you personally, your mindset, your pains, your methodologies, we want to know everything so we can then take the tangible things and apply it to our lives.

When you are busy faking it till you make it and score gigs because you know people to get you on the card, it cheats everybody involved. It leads people who genuinely don’t know astray! It hurts the growth of our region.

If you are someone who really does want to get on the big stage and talk to people. Develop your skills and document your process. Show the world how you are working diligently to master a skill.

Show us the behind the scenes, all of the failures and sacrifices you are making in your journey of becoming. People will follow you, they will relate, they will want you to come and speak.

At that point, you will be living your truth and inspiring people to get started. We need more people documenting their process than people who want to be seen as a master with no real journey behind them.

So while the business of motivational speaking is a big one and we need them. I for one will always look for the tangible things that help me get to the next level.

There is nothing more motivating than seeing my progress and being able to constantly learn from those who have done it before me.

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