What Makes a Good Motivational Speaker?

motivation speaker Feb 09, 2016

One of the primary driving forces of any success is motivation. Unfortunately however, it is not always easy to attain a state of motivation and as such, many choose to enlist the help of a professional motivational speaker. Motivational speeches are a powerful tool in the search for motivation and they are often utilised in a workplace environment, sporting teams and educational institutions, as well as a plethora of other situations. Almost always, a good motivational speaker will have experienced struggle and success – quite often they will have achieved highly in their field. Whilst all good motivational speakers have a background of expertise, not all experts are capable of motivational speaking and this guide seeks to examine in further detail, the qualities and attributes of successful and skilled motivational speakers.


It might seem an obvious necessity, however it is unfortunately the case that some motivational speakers lack the internal drive that they purport to posses. This often becomes apparent when speakers address their audience in a somewhat procedural manner, simply restating obvious points without any foundation or sincerity. Contrary to this, effective motivational speakers are able to convey their personal motivation and use the abundance thereof to make a positive difference in the lives and motivation of others. This is often where their personal experiences become important – in particular the ways in which they have overcome their personal setbacks to achieve success in their field of choice. Studies have been conducted into intrapersonal effectiveness and the results indicate that a successful motivational speaker will have traits allowing for intrapersonal effectiveness that is markedly higher than that of an average individual. Specifically, these traits consist of extraversion, agreeableness, emotional intelligence and openness. These elements contribute to an individual’s motivation and are examined in more detail below.

  • Extroversion

It is undeniable that extroversion is a fundamental requisite of motivational speaking. Addressing large audiences and sharing personal experiences requires considerable fortitude and extroverted speakers are more adept at doing so. This is, in part, due to the arguably more zealous nature of extroverts when it comes to matters of public speaking. Confidence and presence are both very important, not only in motivational speaking, but in public speaking across the board and extroverts typically have these qualities in profusion.

  • Agreeableness

Agreeableness is an important factor of social harmony and integration. It can often correlate with an individual’s optimism in regard to the nature of their peers. This is an important aspect of motivational speaking, as a good speaker will be of the positive mindset that their audience is capable of not only considerable achievement, but also aiding in the success of their peers. An agreeable speaker will relate well to the audience and convey their message within a framework of positivity and optimism – both vital constituents of a motivated mentality.

  • Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to an individual’s capacity to recognise and manage their emotions. The factors that constitute high emotional intelligence are numerous and the most relevant of these to a motivation speaker is the ability to recognise and manage emotions, before exploiting them for self-motivation. The internal drive that is important in being a successful motivational speaker stems primarily from the manner in which they manage their emotions, as emotions are one of the most powerful tools in self-motivation. In having a high emotional intelligence, speakers are able to proficiently offer their audience a means by which to achieve internal motivation in the same way.

  • Openness

With respect to intrapersonal effectiveness, openness is the ability of an individual to be creative and mindful of the characteristics of others. This is important for motivational speakers, as it allows them to present new ideas, perspectives and approaches to their audiences and consider the needs of individuals. Good motivational speakers will be very open in this regard and always seek new outlooks on issues of drive and success – the results of which will be directly presented to their audiences, often with great effect. Primarily, openness is sourced from diversity and experience and as a result, some of the greatest motivational speakers are those who have succeeded in a variety of circumstances and seek new experiences that push them to achieve more.


Interpersonal effectiveness is the external adroitness with which individuals conduct themselves. There are a number of particular features that can drastically enhance the success of a motivational speaker and some of the more prominent of these are listed below.

  • Communication

It goes without saying that one of the most significant of a speaker’s external characteristics is their ability to pertinently communicate with their audience. Whilst seemingly an obvious necessity, there are many speakers who lack the ability to adequately communicate with their audience and as such, they are unable to truly impart upon them any meaningful sense of motivation. Communication is very dynamic and the best motivational speakers recognise this and tailor their deliveries in accordance with the audience in question. For example, the way in which an effective speaker would address a workplace would be entirely different to the way in which they would address a sports team or school group and this highlights the importance of skilled communication in the field of motivational speaking.

  • Problem solving

Problem solving is a necessary part of being a successful motivational speaker. Some of the most effective speakers have achieved their success through perseverance and solving the problems that are inherently involved in accomplishment. As an interpersonal feature, problem solving requires that speakers address the problems of their audience and present viable and personally tested solutions. In drawing upon their own instances of personal problem solving, effective motivational speakers are able to encourage others to overcome their own barriers, as well as provide them with the means by which to do so.

There are a multitude of factors that constitute a good motivational speaker and the more notable of these have been examined in this article. Put more simply however, an effective motivational speaker will discuss topics with conviction and this conviction will be founded upon the personal experiences that are consequent of the speaker’s insatiable desire to succeed.

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