One of the most well-known motivational speakers doesn’t exist. Matt Foley Motivational SpeakerOne of the most famous speakers in the world is a spoof character called Matt Foley created by Saturday Night Live and Chris Farley. Matt is a horrible motivational speaker; he clearly doesn’t have his own life together, is thrice divorced, and famously lives in a van Down By The River.

While attending the National Speakers Association meeting — a place where the best speakers in the world gather to network and learn — I decided to get my camera out and asked some of my peers what they thought about this fictional character. Do they feel threatened by Matt Foley?  Insulted?  Do they think it’s funny? Why is this fictional character famous years and years after the SNL episode was last aired? (Sadly, Chris Farley has since died.)

Check out the video here:

Of course, the reason the SNL sketch is so funny is that it is based on truth. Any comedian will tell you that the funniest material is material that contains strong elements of reality. Let’s admit it… There are a ton of motivational speakers who suck. They speak on everything from motivation to goal setting to wealth building… Yet they cannot rub two nickels together. Don’t get me wrong… There are motivational speakers out there who are total rock stars. I’m just saying that there are at least an equal number of motivational speakers who are anywhere from mediocre to horrible.

And our audiences know it. If there weren’t any blowhard, miserable, unsuccessful, poverty stricken, lame motivational speakers, the late night Chris Farley material would fall flat.

(By the way, when I’m part of an audience watching a motivational speaker I’m always curious about that speaker’s back story. I want to know if they’re doing well in the world and simply sharing their struggles and journey with us, or if they are a Matt Foley style fraud. Aren’t you?)

I was completely surprised there were so many professional motivational real motivational speakers on Matt Farleyspeakers who don’t know about the Saturday Night Live sketch. They have never heard of the Down By The River dude. To me this shows a complete absence of awareness of American pop culture. Yes, to be honest, this sketch is pretty old. (Foley first appeared on SNL in 1993).  But if we trust in Google… And who doesn’t?… Many people are still searching for information, video, and details about the fictional speaker.  There are numerous YouTube posts of Matt Foley.  And if they’re searching for it and posting him, that means there is — even now — a ton of interest in this fake speaker.

What’s the Point?

For me the message is clear: most Americans have doubts about matt Foley Down by the Rivermotivational speakers. They wonder if motivational speakers are more than just blowhard ambassadors of ineptitude. Which means that if I’m going to be a motivational speaker one of the first jobs I have with any client or any audience is to let them know that I am not like Matt Foley. I need to speak truthfully about what I know and don’t know … And I need to be authentic.

When I am watching a motivational speaker I don’t need them to be wildly successful. They do not need to have climbed a mountain, run a Fortune 500 company, or made a fortune from scratch. All I need is for them to be authentic, present a real person, and share with me actionable ideas about how to improve myself.

What do you think?

Is Matt Foley funny?  Why?   What do you look for in a motivational speaker? Leave a comment below!  We want to know what you think!

If you’re looking for a motivational speaker for your event who does not live down by the river that I hope you will consider booking me.

Here’s the first Down By The River Sketch:

Matt Foley Motivational Speaker in Mexico (in spanish)

And one more video of Chris Farley as a funny motivational speaker
Another Down By the River Blog post about Matt Foley / Chris Farley

What do YOU think?

leave a comment



Motivational Speakers Award:


Brad is a Certified Speaking Professional! (C.S.P.)


Motivational Humorist and Business Speaker Brad Montgomery Receives International Award

DENVER, Colorado, USA.

July 18-

Denver business humorist and motivational speaker Brad Montgomery has earned the National Speakers Association’s Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation. He was honored at the Speakers Association’s highest earned designation during ceremony at the NSA International Convention, July 13-16, in Orlando, FL.What is CSP?

The Certified Speaking Professional designation, established in 1980 by the National Speakers Association (NSA), is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform skill. CSP is conferred by the US-based National Speakers Association and by the National Speakers Association of Australia only on those who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. The letters CSP following a speaker’s name indicate a speaking professional with proven experience who understands what is required and knows how to deliver client satisfaction.

CSP BradComments from Those Who Hire Speakers
“CSP is an insurance policy toward the meeting planner’s success. The CSP designation is a qualifier in the mind of the astute planner.”Brad Plumb
North American Speakers Bureau, Inc.

“I am a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional). I believe strongly in designations. It says you are committed to the profession. When I have equal speakers, I will take the CSP first over the non-CSP. Yes, CSP does make a difference in selecting speakers.”
Betty E. Garrett,CMP
Garrett Speakers International

“You know they (CSPs) have achieved a certain discipline that puts them in a category all their own;they have passed the test of longevity; they have proven themselves. It makes a difference today and will continue to make a difference in the meeting planning industry.”
Marolyn Wright
Program Resources

CSP“When I have a choice of a speaker who is a CSP or not, I will select the speaker who is a CSP.”Michelle Lemmons
International Speakers Bureau, Inc.

“I always consider the CSP designation the hallmark of professional excellence. The CSPs that we have selected have never disappointed our audiences.”
Barbara S. Sadek
The Society for Human Resources Management

“It’s truly an indication that a speaker has achieved a higher level of professionalism. It’s something we look for first. I reduce my risk by hiring someone with a CSP.”
William Bess
Mfgrs. Representatives of America


Why Should You Hire a Certified Speaking Professional?

It will make your job easier! The success of your meeting will be judged largely on the caliber, professionalism and appropriateness of the topic and presenter(s) you select. Choosing a CSP maximizes your opportunity of providing a speaker with a message that will focus, elevate and enhance the mission of your meeting and stick firmly in the memories, attitudes and action plans of your attendees.How Many CSPs Are There?
Less than 7% of the speakers who belong to the International Federation for Professional Speakers hold this professional designation. The membership of the International Federation for Professional Speakers is comprised of professional speaking associations worldwide. CSP is the international standard that these associations agree represent competence in the speaking profession.What Benefit Does a CSP Bring to Your Meeting?

A Certified Speaking Professional brings a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise. CSPs are committed to ongoing education, outstanding service and ethical behavior. CSPs offer wide varieties of approaches, topics and styles. Only you can determine which speaker will best fit your needs. A Certified Speaking Professional provides a solid place with which to begin your search.What Are the Criteria?
Every CSP must…

  • Maintain membership and subscribe to the Code of Professional Ethics.
  • Serve a minimum of 100 different clients within 5 years.
  • Present a minimum of 250 professional speaking engagements within this same 5-year period.
  • Submit testimonial letters from clients served.
  • Submit professionally prepared promotional materials
  • Receive excellent ratings from past clients on professional performance evaluations.
  • Continue education in the professional speaking field.

The Speakers Association
NSA, a member association of the International Federation for Professional Speakers, is dedicated to advancing the art and value of experts who speak professionally. The International Federation for Professional Speakers provides more than 5000 members with the resources and education designed to enhance the talent, ethics and business acumen of professional speakers. The CSP Certification is an indication that you are booking a committed professional who has a history of success with many audiences.

Related Links:
Brad’s Motivational Speaking topics.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]