“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
– Zig Ziglar, Salesman & Motivational Speaker.
What is a Motivational Speaker?
A glance at a dictionary tells us “Motivational speakers are persons engaged in public speaking who help motivate others with their knowledge and real-life stories in public setting such as sales seminars and corporate meetings.”
But why should we care as coaches? What benefit is there to us in motivational speaking?
Fact 1: According to my research, the biggest challenge to coaches – by a long way – is getting new clients.
Fact 2: For coaches, giving presentations is a highly effective way to reach potential new clients.
Fact 3: A coach who is a motivational speaker can expect to attract many people to listen to them.
Got your attention yet? Want to know how to become a motivational speaker? Good, then read on…
Firstly, let’s define our terms.
According to the dictionary, motivation, an noun, is:
1. the act, or an instance, of motivating.
2. the state or condition of being motivated.
3. something that motivates; an inducement; an incentive.
Problem: Motivation does not exist
But we have a problem. Motivation, in NLP terms, is a nominalization – a verb or complex action which has been frozen into a noun. Despite its linguistic appearances, it is not a thing. We can’t touch it or hold it. We can’t give it to anyone.
To really understand it, we need to get back to the verb, and the associated verb is – to motivate.
To motivate whom?
But “to motivate” does not exist on its own as a free entity, either. There must be a subject – a person – who will be motivated. So, the question is, “Motivating for whom?” Different people are motivated by different things. So who are we talking about motivating?
For coaches, the obvious people to motivate are our target market, as they’re the people who will potentially buy our services.
So let’s assume for the moment you’ll want to motivate your target market.
Motivate to do what?
Now, the next linguistic question arises, as “to motivate” is a multi-part predicate. You must motivate someone to do something. So the next question is “Motivate to do what, exactly?”
If you’re in the coaching business, this should be a no-brainer. You want to motivate your target market to buy your coaching services.
How do you know?
And so onto the next NLP question: How do you know? How do you know that your audience – hopefully your target market (or at least individual members of it) are being motivated to buy your coaching services?
This comes down to knowing your audience. They will buy from you if you demonstrate a compelling reason to do so. You’ll have a compelling reason if your offer is of more value to them than what you are charging. And it will be of value if you can demonstrate you understand what they want.
So you need to supply what they want. “But how?” I hear you wail – “How do I know what they want?” The answer is both simple and profound.
Yes, just ask ’em.
Deliver what they want
Then deliver exactly what they ask for. If you do that, and supply what is going to attract them – such as how to solve a common problem they face – your target market will flock to hear you.
“But that’s not motivational speaking”, I hear you say. “What about style, flash presentation, loud music, punching the air? Isn’t that what motivational speaking is all about?”
I could be cheeky and ask whether you would prefer to pump people up, or motivate them to buy your services?
But there’s a more fundamental distinction to draw.
Form follows Function
Many people confuse the presentation style often associated with “motivational speaking” with the act of motivating someone to do something useful – such as to buy your coaching services.
Your presentation style is a decision you make based on your audience, their needs, the environment, your aim and what you’re comfortable with. You can learn different styles appropriate to different audiences and environments, of course. And it’s good to gain that flexibility. But motivational speaking is not the presentation style.
The architect Louis Henri Sullivan is credited as saying, “Form ever follows function.”
That is, the form – in our case presentation style – must follow, or support, the function it will perform, in our case motivating our audience to buy. Form and function are inseparable. Form, or style, is meaningless without its underlying and driving function.
Don’t put the cart in front of the horse
If you try to remove “motivational speaking” from the context of who is being motivated, and to what end, you are putting the cart in front of the horse. Motivation, as we said, is not a free-standing thing that exists in isolation.
So what do you do?
First decide on your target audience. Ask them what they want most – what are they starving for? Then offer to supply it in the form of a presentation. If you are genuinely supplying what they want, they will be motivated to turn up and listen.
If they value your offering, and the price is less than the perceived value to them, they will be motivated to hear you out. And if you pitch your offering appropriately, they may well be moved to buy your services.
Did you catch that last sentence? They may be moved to buy your services. Ah, perhaps I didn’t mention in our definitions above that motivation comes from the Middle French noun Motif “a move” and Middle/Late Latin motivus – serving to move. So when you motivate people, you move them.
And if you’re moving people enough to buy your offerings, then you’re a motivational speaker.