Working It Out: How to become a successful motivational speaker?

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Written by Siddhartha Sharma | New Delhi | Published:February 28, 2017 7:25 pm

Make sure you keep 1 hour every day for practicing your best 5 speech content so that you can deliver them flawlessly. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

“There are two kinds of speakers- first who puts the audience to sleep and the second who awakens a sleeping audience”

I have now been a motivational speaker and author for about a decade now. Over the last ten years got blessed to conduct speaking sessions in India, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore and address over a million people through my seminars, book-signing events and workshops.

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I still remember how the very first seeds of this professional ambition were first sown into my mind. I have been reading motivational books since the age of fourteen and read over two thousand books in the area of peak performance, success biographies, and organizational psychology. After years of reading the dry pages, one day I got curious to hear the voice of these famous authors that I have been reading for such a long time. Has it ever happened with you that you read words written by someone and felt the uncontrollable urge to listen the words straight from the horse’s mouth? I started by ordering the audio-books of these authors and was hooked onto the content from the very start. By listening to the spoken words of these giants, I developed a vision for a great opportunity and my professional calling. People like Napolean Hill, Earl Nightingale, Carl Jung, Normal Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar inspired me to take up motivational speaking as a profession. I was really impressed with the fact that one could work on their communication skills to such an extent that people want to love to pay them huge amounts of money just to hear them for few minutes, not to mention respect and fame that accompanied monetary benefits. If you harbour the same ambition, let me share some strategies which might take you closer to your goal of becoming a professional speaker.

Ten tips to become a successful motivational speaker:

Find your message: We live in a world of information where the attention of people is comparable to money. Before you deliver your first speech, you need to decide the core message of your future talks. How will your message add value to the lives of those who will pay to listen to you? I started with the message around loving our work and the need to find our true calling in life. It resonated well with my audience and they started calling me as the speaker who urges people to turn their passion into profession. What is your unique message? Pick the message that you really believe in as the audience always senses self-doubt if any in the words of a speaker. Make sure the message is inspiring in nature and a call to people to improve their lives.

Sign up for public speaking classes: Nobody is born as a professional speaker. Speaking is a learnable skill. I always recommend aspiring speakers to join public speaking sessions so that they can learn from the best in class. Find a coach who is a better speaker than you are and let him or her help you discover your own speaking style. There is no end to which you can improve your delivery style when it comes you public speaking. There are almost infinite number of nuances that you can master in professional speaking.

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Establish a professional brand and credibility: Before you begin your professional speaking career, be very mindful of the brand you want to establish. Do you want to establish your name or you want to operate under the umbrella of a company? I can speak from my experiences that speakers need to focus more on establishing their own name for gaining credibility. However, it is also very important to set up a company or any other registered entity. Companies like to do business with companies more than with individuals. Professional speaking is a B2B business even if the beneficiaries may be individuals. Corporations hold the real buying power, so make sure you have your own corporation in place to do business with them. Always do business with clients who have money to buy your speaking services.

Practice is the key: Make sure you keep 1 hour every day for practicing your best 5 speech content so that you can deliver them flawlessly. Successful recipe for professional speaking is all about content and perfect-delivery. Learning and observation gives you content while practice helps you master delivery. Remember one of the greatest secret of professional speaking circuit, you are just one perfect speech away from success. Develop your own learning ritual and it will get you a lot of earning in the long run.

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Find your tribe online: As mentioned in the last point, you are just one perfectly delivered speech away from success provided the speech goes viral on the internet. Start your own YouTube channel and start creating good content for your viewers. Good content is always in demand and make sure you do not steal anyone’s content. Do not kill your reputation by indulging in plagiarism. You may win in the short term but will lose your ability to be original in the long run. Watch other speakers for inspiration and not for imitation. Be consistent in uploading and promoting your content online. The content posted on internet is forever and thus your followership will increase with time. Study the best online content creators and follow their strategy.

Read as much as you can: You cannot speak about what you do not know. Likewise you cannot know something unless you learn. Read all the best books ever written on the topic of your expertise. You will stay updated on how to redesign and adapt your content to get you maximum attention from your followers. Never underestimate the power of a good book, because it can transform your life forever. Reading also improves your ability to concentrate and gives you new ideas about your profession. Great speakers with creative minds are also great readers.

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Body language and tonality: More than 90% of our communication is done through body language and tonality. All the successful speakers harness this fact and work on their body language and tonality regularly. A confident speaker with a great vocal variety is a treat for both eyes and ears. He or she can manage any kind of hostile audience given to them in a matter of few seconds.

Understand your audience: Know what your audience expects from your talk. Be mindful of the need to match your message well with the expectations of the audience. Context plays a great role in the success of a great speech. Do not talk about entrepreneurship when you are talking to employees and your cheque will be signed by their employer. Likewise, do not talk about salary hikes and promotion when you are addressing a bunch of entrepreneurs.

Stories and metaphors: People forget numbers but they always remember stories and metaphors you share with them. As a thumb rule, you should have an inspiring story for every tough situation that you have heard people go through. By telling them a success story, you give them hope as it stretches their reference points. Truer the story, better it is. People can solve their problems if they know the story of some person who solved a similar problem. Also if you can move the audience with your personal story they will remember you for a long time.

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High on humour and emotional quotient: If you can make your audience laugh and weep in the same speech, you have mastered the art of professional speaking. Statistics prove that your audience will retain your words in their memory if those words gave them the peak emotional experience. Add emotional anecdotes and self-deprecating humour to your speech and see the audience eating out of your palms.

These ten points are something I learned over the last ten years of trials and errors in my profession. See if these points can save you some time and costly mistakes.

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