I recently saw the movie Little Miss Sunshine which features Greg Kinnear as a character who is a motivational speaker totally down on his luck. Throughout the film, he desperately tries to sell his “9 steps” success method, and, though his steps are good in theory, but this guy is a total loser.

The movie makes a decent point: aren’t motivational speakers predictable, platitudinous and (often) frauds?

And why do highly educated, well-travelled, sophisticate people need motivation anyway? Don’t they know what the speaker will say before they say it?

1. Have goals!
2. Try every mountain
3. You can be a winner!
4. Choose to succeed!
etc blah blah.
Well, yes. But if that is true, why do we need motivational speakers? Here’s what I think:

We all need regular doses of motivation.

It’s like a shower… just ’cause you’re clean now doesn’t mean you won’t need another shower later. Independence is a quality highly reveared in American society, so when someone thinks they can do it on their own, they sure will try. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone out there doesn’t need a slight kick in the pants every now and then. We can’t run on full steam all the time; so it’s never going to hurt to have the right person come in and help fuel the fire.

The good motivational speakers are those who can transfer this motivation in a new and fresh way. Something that appeals to today’s sophisticated audiences.

Audiences crave motivation. They WANT, and sometimes NEED, an outsider to help them see their life, job and troubles from a fresh perspective. The CHALLENGE is sometimes giving someone something they need (motivation) when these people might not choose it (a motivational speaker) for themselves.

So… if you are looking for a speaker, what should you do to make sure you don’t get Greg Kinnear and his silly 9 Steps?

How to choose a professional motivational speaker is quite simple. Just remember the basics. When you are looking for a speaker, find somebody who you know “gets” your group. The initial connection between speaker and audience is crucial, so make sure your speaker knows who they’re talking to from the get go. Make sure the program is customized to your people and that the speaker has a hook that can draw you people in. And, most importantly, make sure your speaker is a real person, someone who practices what they preach.

Greg Kinnear had his steps, but he couldn’t follow them to save his life. He was always preaching to his family about not being a loser, when he himself was the biggest loser of them all. A good speaker will have a list of references, so check them! And look for a LONG list of happy clients. Ask your perspective speaker how they plan to do more than just motivate you audience. How do they plan to motivate AND create actual, meaningful CHANGE in your audience? How will your speaker get your people to MOVE from point A to point B?

Your group will see through the 9 Steps. What does your speaker have to offer that is fresh and appealing? Is he authentic and real?

If not, just rent the movie. You’ll save enough green for the popcorn.

Wanna hire a REAL motivational speaker? Check out what I do in lieu of 9 Steps?

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Humorist, Keynoter

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One response to “Motivational Speakers Suck.”

  1. michaelhayden11 says:

    Yes…we need motivational speakers
    because they will try to motivate us in achieving our goals. The good motivational speakers are those who can transfer this motivation in a new and fresh way that helps us a lot to concentrate on the goals.

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