Very often I receive mails from people asking what it takes to be a motivational speaker. I have received mails from young people who are still in school and who want to know whether motivational speaking can make a good career path for them. I have also received mails from career people, entrepreneurs and even pastors. They all want to know what it really means to be a motivational speaker and what it takes to be one. They also want to know if motivational speaking is an industry one can invest in. I will answer these questions in this article.
Only recently I was in Abuja for a public speakers workshop as a participant and in the cause of the meeting one of the lead speakers said, “I am not a motivational speaker, I am a life coach…blah, blah, blah”.And on and on he went, literally discrediting, or should I say, shoving off an industry’s turf he was, whether he liked it or not, in. So I lifted my hands up and asked him, “Sir, May I ask a question.Please is there any difference between a motivational speaker and a life coach?”
He wasn’t expecting the question. He reflected a bit and said, “Everyone these days claim to be motivational speakers. You know, the hype and pump-up sessions. That is not what I do. I deal with life issues and give life enhancing strategies. That is the difference.”
I allowed him finish his rant and then asked to be given a few minutes to say some things.I was given.
Here is what I said when I was given the opportunity:
“You see, it is true everyone claims to be a motivational speaker these days. And few serious minded trainers or public speakers want to be referred to as a ‘motivational speaker’ , so to speak. They would rather want to be associated with terms like: Business Strategist, Business Consultant, Life Coach, High Performance Coach…and so on and so forth. The reason is because a majority of people feel that motivational speakers these days are literally no-do-wells, nothing-to-show people who rant and hype about success by telling other people’s stories. And so they feel that by calling themselves Life Coaches or any other title, they sought of distinguish themselves from the perceived ‘motivational speaker’ typology.
“The challenge is that the people who do this don’t seem to fully know what the meaning of motivational speaking is. Who is a motivational speaker? Look at the word “Motivation”. It seems to be a combination of two words: “Motive” and “Action”. What a motivational speaker does is that he gives people a “Motive” or “Reasons” to take action. Everyone has reasons why they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing or why they are doing what they are doing presently. Motives drive our actions. The motivational speaker literally compiles reasons through fiction or factual storytelling, facts and figures, analogies, illustrations in order to challenge people to take quality actions. He is in the business of dislodging wrong reasons or motives people have and also in helping develop strong good reasons that compel people to do.
“So here is the question, Sir: Are you a motivational speaker based on what I have just highlighted about who a motivational speaker really is? Do you compel people through the strategies, tactics, methodologies, figures, stories, case studies, teachings that you present in business, in relationships, in health or whatever area your focus is? Let me answer the question for you. The answer is YES. You see, the challenge is not the moniker ‘motivational speaker’. Whether you choose to call yourself a motivational speaker, life coach, business consultant, life strategist, peak performance consultant, success coach or whatever, it is all the same thing. You are all doing the same thing. The terminologies and differentiation are all semantics.”
I had gotten everyone’s attention and they wanted me to say more.
“It is just like the music industry in Nigeria. Doesn’t it seem that every Dick and Harry is a musician today? Yet that doesn’t stop the very best from doing their thing and still calling themselves musicians. Same thing with comedy. Yet we all know the real deals.
“Motivation is a very important part of any meeting. If there is no energy, no strong, compelling reason to take action, meetings will be lifeless, bland and boring. In those days, companies in Nigeria engaged the services of consultants who would get their members of staff to sleep off in training. These consultants had content and know-how but there was that spark that was missing. Then they changed their strategy and started inviting upbeat, high energy speakers who would not only give motivational delivery but also give content. That is how the likes of Fela Durotoye, Lanre Olusola, Leke Alder, Ubong Essien, Niyi Adesanya, Steve Harris, Bankole Williams and the rest started getting corporate training opportunities. They were not expected to just give content but to spark up their members of staff.Some of these speakers do as many as 50 corporate training in a year reeling millions of Naira. In the days of Intercontinental Bank, people like Fela Durotoye trained their members of staff in all their branches in one year. We are talking of about between 80 to 100 branches!”
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I hadn’t come for that Abuja workshop as a speaker but as a student. It turned out that I was given a special session to share other ideas that I had.
Is there a motivational speaking industry in Nigeria? I would say that it is evolving. It is still in its beginning phase and I think the reason is because many people haven’t fully grasped what it is all about. However, I believe that with time it will mature and blossom into something we can call an industry. In America, for example, the motivational speaking industry is so organized and recognized. It is organized into numerous niche areas: sales, enterprise development, peak performance, corporate training, network marketing, finance, relationships, health, youth development and so on. As a motivational speaker all you need to do is find and flourish in your niche area. They have a number of speaker’s bureau. You can search for speakers and book them. There are also associations and bodies that organize speakers’ conventions that allow speakers network with each other and learn industry secrets from each other. Our country Nigeria has not gotten to that level yet. Like I said, motivational speaking is still evolving and trying to take shape. Some even think that a motivational speaker should be a pastor. While that is possible, pastoring and motivational speaking have their differences.
Now, how can you become a motivational speaker in Nigeria?
I will suggest that you first of all collate your story. Everyone has a story that can inspire people to take action. Look into your life history and organize your experiences into a story, a compelling story. And if you don’t have one that you consider to be compelling, you could tell other people’s stories. Motivational speakers are very good storytellers. They use stories to paint pictures, to trigger our emotions and to make facts more digestible.
Next, see motivational speaking as a business and a profession. What area do you want to be an expert in? Find it and grow in that area. Brian Tracy focuses on sales. Robert Kiyosaki focuses on finance. Tony Robbins focuses on peak performance. John Maxwell focuses on Leadership. Randy Cage and Eric Worre focus on network marketing. Patricia Fripp focuses sales and public speaking. In Nigeria, there are motivational speakers who are known for certain areas. Lanre Olusola shares a lot on NLP(NueroLinguistic Programming), a human development technology; Fela Durotoye has been teaching on Nation building for years; Leke Alder is the branding expert. Niyi Adesanya’s area of focus is Leadership. Ubong Essien’s area of strength is on Public Speaking. I focus on Persuasion Technology, a human development technology that is a hybrid of NeuroLinguistic Programming, Neuro Associative Conditioning and ChemoLinguistic Programing. Which one is your area of focus?
Fela-Durotoye Ubong Essien NIYI
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Next is to really polish your public speaking skills. Motivational speakers are very good public speakers. To improve your public speaking skills, you could attend a public speaking school, read public speaking books, listen to public speaking audio or get a public speaking mentor. I have a public speaking academy called PODIUM DYNAMICS ACADEMY that teaches people how they can improve their public speaking. You may also wish to join a Toastmasters club in your community.
Next, develop promotional materials: brochures, leaflets, introductory audio/video tapes, a website or blog, a book or magazine, an audio or video cd. Doing this makes you a professional. Doing this separates you from the everyday motivational speaker to the motivational speaking professional. Clients want to see that you are packaged and that you are taking your speaking business seriously. One of the ways to get your clients to take you seriously is to have a book authored by you.
Next, engage in brand promotion. Your brand promotion strategies should contain your call card, website, logo, tagline, colour, and slogan. The fastest way to publicize your brand is to use the media. Start with the social media (I hear today that it is called the ‘new media’). Through the social media you can really promote your brand as a motivational speaker and trainer. Of course, you should be on Face Book, have a FaceBook page, and be on instagram, twitter and every other social media website.
When I started, I wrote for a local Newspaper and then a National Daily. I also found a way to get into radio and television. As my brand grew bigger, I did bill boards in my community, a radio jingle specifically highlighting what I do and a video promo.
Organize Free Seminars. You will have to begin by putting together a lot of free seminars and workshop.
Attend Many Speaking Events and Speak for Free. You have to get noticed. If you are invited for an event to speak, don’t be particular about how much you will get paid. People have to know you first before they can buy into you.
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