Motivationally Speaking: Do Your Motivational Speeches Really Motivate? How do you know?

Motivationally Speaking
Motivationally Speaking

I got some earth-shattering news. Not every motivational speaker is as good as he thinks he is. Shocking I know. But you are probably nodding in agreement because you’ve been on the receiving end of one too many boring speeches. I hear so many speakers say, “I know I’m good.” And then I hear them and wonder whose definition of “good” they are using. We are not good judges of our own talent. Neither are our friends and family. We also can’t trust those sweet people in our audiences who love everybody and are just happy to be alive – or the ones who don’t have the heart to tell you that your speech was as motivating as a root canal. Just because they clap doesn’t mean you did good. Shoot, even a standing ovation only takes one excited person. I know it stings, but if you want to be a motivational speaker, at some point you need to determine if you really motivate. Do you deliver on their investment?

I am not talking to trainers. I am talking to motivational speakers who have promised a different experience. The trainer is paid to come deliver information and they should be judged mainly on the content delivered – although I will say that they are also judged on performance. The motivational keynote speaker is paid to come deliver an unforgettable show with information woven into it. Motivational keynote speakers are judged mainly on performance.

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So how do you know if your audience is motivated by your words? If people line up when it’s over asking for your card. If they say, “We want to hire you.” If the client is beaming, hugging your neck, and saying you made them look great. If they ask you back or tell others about you. These are all signs that you’ve delivered on your promise.

Remember the 10/10/80 rule: Ten percent will always love you, ten will always hate you, and eighty percent will reserve judgment. It’s that eighty percent you are concerned about. Did you deliver for 80% of the audience? No speaker ever delivers 100% of the audience 100% of the time.

Make sure you know how you want them feel after your program. What you want them to think. Are you giving them a means of responding to your program? Evaluations? Surveys? Start writing their comments down when you get back to the plane. Pay attention. Document.

Having them tell you that was a nice performance doesn’t necessarily mean they learned anything. Having them tell you that you know your stuff doesn’t necessarily mean they liked the way you delivered it. Having them compliment your breakout session, doesn’t mean they’ll like you as a keynote speaker. And the worst response you can get from a client: Well, how do you think you did? If your client smiles politely and avoids eye contact, you’ve got a problem.

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What can you do when your program didn’t do what you intended? Apologize. Give their money back. Assess the validity of their complaint. Use it to grow and get better.

In tough times where you get bad evaluations or wonder why you’re doing this – pull out those letters you got where people told you what an impact you made. They will remind you of the times you got it right. If you don’t have any, well, maybe it’s time to take an honest look at yourself. Don’t be discouraged. None of us starts out great. Shoot, many of us don’t even start out good. It’s a process. Now get back to work.

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