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Career Success

How to Become a Motivational Speaker (Step-By-Step Guide)

Written by Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.
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Have you ever dreamed of being the next Martin Luther King Jr. (minus the tragedy) or Tony Robbins? Would you love to travel the globe speaking to, and inspiring, millions of people with your message? Learning how to become a motivational speaker takes dedication and heart, but it can be done! Learning to speak to a groups of people can be fulfilling as your message changes people’s lives.

There are plenty of people in the world who make a living as a motivational speaker, so why not you? People are looking for speakers to inspire them, everyday.

Let’s take a look at how to become a confident public speaker and make your mark on this world.

20 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker

1. Pick Your Topic

This might sound obvious, but you do need to know what you want to talk about, and it’s not always as easy as you think. It’s important to be knowledgeable about your topic and be comfortable speaking extensively on it.

For example, I have a Ph.D. in communication, but I could not give endless speeches related to that topic. I know a lot about it, but it’s not something I can get excited to speak about. You have to choose either what you’re an expert in, or at least what you are the most passionate about. If you choose a topic you are passionate about, it will come through as you speak as relatable and authentic.

It’s also important to remember that some topics may be better to get specific on. You will be more successful in targeting your niche audience this way. For example, “How to succeed in Business” is too broad, whereas “How to advance your career into management” is more targeted.

2. Know Your Main Message

Now that you have your topic, how are you going to narrow it down? When you’re learning how to become a motivational speaker, it’s important to know exactly what you want to teach your audience.


For example, let’s say you are passionate about environmental issues. That’s a pretty broad topic. What exactly about the environment do you think is most important? What do you most need to teach people?

Consider your messaging to be something where you have credibility. By understanding what you want to teach people, you will be able to connect with your audience and come across as authentic. Your credentials, experience or expertise will be what make people want to listen to you.

3. Identify the End-Goal for Your Audience

What do you want the audience to do or believe as a result of your speech? Do you want them to take some action to make their lives better? Do you want to change their belief or value system? How are the people in your audience going to be better people because they heard your speech?

A good CTA (Call-to-Action) is the key to have your message stick with your audience. Having a plan to action on is the most important gift you could give as a motivational speaker

As you build out your motivational speaker career, you may develop and sell other resources, such as e-books, online courses or hard copy books. Your speeches may become a great vehicle for promoting other streams of your business. Your motivational words may be just the start of helping your audience. Don’t make your speech about selling your other products, but position your other resources a natural extension of your message.

4. Know Your Audience

Now that you know what you want your audience to do or think after your speech, who exactly are you speaking to[1]? It really depends on your topic.


However, there are some topics that are relevant to every human being on the planet, while others are only pertinent to, say, parents or lawyers. Who do you want to speak to?

Knowing who your audience is will be key to finding who to speak to (tip #9) and where to look and where to focus to establish your audience. Do a lot of research on your typical audience member and what they would statistically care about, appreciate and connect with. It’s well understood that not everyone is the same, but from a statistics standpoint, you can paint a broad picture of who your audience might be.

5. Make Sure Your Message Is Relevant and Timely

You want to teach your audience something new. You want it to be relevant to their lives so that they think your message benefits them in some way. They will zone out and lose focus if you teach them about a subject that isn’t relevant to them.

It seems obvious, of course, but you don’t want to tell them something they already know. You want to challenge them. Part of being memorable will be to have your audience feel engaged and challenged.

During your research phase of building out your speech and related content, try to add value to your subject by including concepts that are meaningful but not well published. On many popular topics, a lot of information is copied and repeated. My bringing a different, new take on your topic, you are adding value to your audience.

As you progress through your motivational speaker journey, keep on top of shifts within the marketplace and changes in your chosen topic. It will be important to stay informed on current trends and ensure your content remains relevant as time goes on.


6. Hire a Public Speaking Coach

You might be brand-new to public speaking. If so, you’re going to need some training as you’re learning how to become a motivational speaker.

You don’t want to be boring with your delivery, and you don’t want to confuse the audience with lack of organization.

You want to put on a good “show,” and in order to do that, you might have to take an extra step and hire a professional coach to help you hone your speaking skills.

Just like in sports, you may need help and support to become the best version of yourself.

During the review phase of hiring a coach, select one that has extensive experience working with motivational speaker. As them for references from their client base and if possible, review the available speeches online. While many people can position themselves as coaches, it’s important to select someone with the right background and skill to help you.

7. Watch Yourself on Video

Obviously, no one is able to step outside their body and see what they look like to other people. That’s where video comes in.

If you want to improve your public speaking skills, you first have to know what you look like. Once you view yourself speaking on video, you’ll know what you need to improve upon.


Also, practicing on video is a great opportunity to get over any nerves you may have. Get a trusted friend to video you – this will help you get over the shyness of speaking in front of others and allow you to get video of yourself all at once.

When you review video of yourself, the key is to understand how you come across to others. Do you seem confident? Do you use too many filler words? How is your speed?

Make videoing yourself a regular habit, to keep on top of how you come across. Video of yourself can also be used in social media (hint, see tip #17). For using video in social media, many apps already have editing suites built right in. For social media applications where video editing is not built in, you can rely on easy to use video editing software.

8. Incorporate Visual Aids, Props, or Equipment

People are visual, so it’s advisable to have some sort of visual aid or prop. It’s more difficult for people to follow along with your speech if they don’t have something else to look at other than you. Plus, visual aids help explain what you’re talking about and keeps the audience’s attention.

Be mindful with your use of PowerPoint. use it as a tool to help guide you speak and not as a crutch. You want your audience to connect with you as a speaker, and to not get lost in your slides.

Depending on your available props, it will also depend on the space you will typically present in. A large auditorium space will require a different setup than an intimately setup conference room.


9. Find Your Audience

Who is your audience? Are you speaking to women, men, business owners, professionals, etc.? It is imperative that you narrow down your target audience when you’re learning how to become a motivational speaker.

Then, you need to find them in order to deliver your message. This is all about targeting the right market through marketing and advertising.

How will you speak to your audience? How will you approach your audience in a way that is meaningful to them.

You can access them through social media, flyers, cold emails, or word of mouth. Find where and how to access your audience to begin to grow your following.

Of all the options to source your audience, social media allows you to connect with your niche the quickest. While it can be challenging to break through the volume of content, producing quality, relevant social media content that shows your genuine personality will attract the right people to you.

10. Network

As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” So start networking as much as you can.


Carry your business cards everywhere, and with this you have two options:

Paper – paper business cards are the most common and easily available. You can order cards online, and they typically come in boxes of about 250 to 500 cards

Electronic – there are several digital card options that live on your mobile device and allow you to share your contact information digitally. Important to note – not everyone may be comfortable with the digital option, so consider your target audience when deciding about which option will suit you.

Develop an “elevator speech” so that you can tell people exactly what you speak about. The more you spread the word about your speaking, the more people will get interested in you.

This article about How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life will help you. When you are networking, work on showing the best version of yourself. You need to believe in yourself and see yourself as the successful motivational speaker that you are. Your authenticity and passion will allow the other person to visualize you as a speaker.

11. Do Free Speaking Gigs in the Beginning

Tony Robbins didn’t become “Tony Robbins” overnight. He was a nobody at some point in his life, before he learned how to become a motivational speaker.

If you’re currently a “nobody,” don’t fret. You can become a “somebody,” but you might need to do speaking engagements for free at first. Once you gain a reputation, then you can work on getting paid to speak while developing your motivational speaking career.


12. Sign up for Conventions That Offer Speakers

There are plenty of conventions that seek out speakers. Do your research, try to find some that are relevant to your topic, and apply to be a speaker.

Again, you may have to speak for free, but at least you’ll likely be speaking to your target audience. All speaking engagements, free or paid, are. a great opportunity to practice.

13. Register With a Speaker’s Bureau

There are many speaker’s bureaus that you can join when learning how to become a motivational speaker. Just get on the internet and Google the ones closest to you to find more speaking opportunities.

Start locally, and then you can branch out to other geographical areas once you start gaining momentum.

14. Develop a Marketing Plan

You might be a great public speaker, but are you good at marketing yourself?

You can’t reach your goals—or your audience—if you don’t have a marketing plan[2]. Make sure you include both short-term and long-term goals for marketing platforms, revenue and social media strategy.

15. Hire a Marketing or Public Relations Expert

If you don’t even know where to begin writing or implementing a marketing plan, then you might want to consider hiring professionals to do it for you.

Yes, it will cost money, but in the long run, it might be worth it to have someone in charge of marketing who knows what they’re doing. A worthwhile investment such as this will allow you to focus your efforts in proven strategies. Typically, a seasoned professional will understand what works and what doesn’t, which will save you time.


Before you hire an expert, do an extensive search on their background and ask to see their references, if possible. It would be ideal to find someone who has experience working with motivational speakers. If this isn’t possible, then make sure they have a great deal of experience in social media, as this is a critical piece of your marketing strategy.

16. Ask for Feedback

As you’re learning how to become a motivational speaker, ask the audience for feedback. Asking for feedback will help you learn and improve twice as fast.

You can construct your own evaluation form to distribute after the speech. Hopefully, the audience will be honest and give you constructive feedback. However, don’t make it too long, because they might dissuade them from finishing it. Try to keep it to less than 10 questions, and shoot for 5 if possible.

As an alternative to a paper form, you could establish an online version of feedback collection. This allows you to reach out over email and may be easier for your attendees to complete

Remember, hearing criticism can be difficult, but it will be worthwhile.

17. Use Social Media

These days, marketing via social media is a must for any business or individual. You can get the word out via your own personal accounts, and you can also set up accounts to use professionally.

Facebook – This option has fan pages, and you can easily create it and then invite your friends to follow you.


Instagram – Instagram’s focus on photos gives you the opportunity to build your brand in a visual way

TikTok – this platform’s short video and “For You Page” allows your message to get out to an audience who doesn’t necessarily follow you yet

Quora – By going on this site and answering questions, you get an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your subject

The above options are a fantastic way to build your brand and it’s recommended to select more than one platform to establish your presence online.

18. Develop a Website

Just as with social media, every business needs a website. It’s simply mandatory in this day and age.

Developing a website is an essential component of your branding strategy. Choosing a domain name with your own name (or some variation of it like “janesmithspeaker.com”) is the best idea, as this will associate your name with you and how you will become known. There are various options available to you when it comes to building your site:

Building yourself: There are many sites that have prebuilt templates available that make it easy for you to build a site. This option is typically the most economical option.

Professionally Built: A professionally built site will likely provide you with a site that is more customized and may convey your messaging closer to how you would like. This option is likelier the more costly version of the two.


Important to remember – Websites will have ongoing, monthly hosting costs, as well as potential requirements to keep them updated. You may use your website to communicate to your audience in different ways – including a blog, your tour dates, if applicable, so you will need to understand if this remains updated by you or someone else.

19. Practice your Skills

It’s very important to put the time in practicing your craft. Even the most confident speakers can experience nerves, stage fright and stress before and during a speech.

A great option to practice is to find a local Toastmasters group to join – this is typically a group who will gather to improve members’ public speaking skills and is a great way to firm up your skills as a motivational speaker in a low pressure environment.

20. Manage yourself like a Business

I know it sounds crazy – but manage your speaking career much like you would a business. When it comes to getting the help you need to succeed, planning out how you will promote yourself and making a roadmap to success, it’s important treat it as if it’s a business and plan the same way.

Putting a business plan together, for your success will allow you to easily map out your desired progression as a motivational speaker. Any expenses you may incur, putting your speaking career together can be considered investments into your future success.

The Bottom Line

Becoming a motivational speaker won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort, dedication and focus. If you can build a following and get your message out, it is a great way to earn a living or simply just to earn a few extra bucks. You will not only be helping people, but many often report a rush after being on stage in front of a group.

The most important part is that you have the opportunity to help many people who need to hear your message. You will inspire people and help them become better versions of themselves. What an amazing way to leave your mark on this word.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com


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