Motivational Speaker Required? – Here’s What to Look Out For

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1. Why Choosing a Professional Motivational Speaker is so Necessary

Find a speaker with a proven ability to motivate and you can be assured your meeting will have the success all of your hard work will rightly deserve.

A good speaker with the ability to motivate delegates can turn ‘average’ event evaluation scores into superlatives such as, ‘brilliant, fantastic and superb’.

Correctly motivate your delegates and you will receive credit for helping to instill in them an internal energy that determines all aspects of their future behaviour. This is why hiring a professional, motivational presenter is so important.

2. Watch out for the ‘Pretend’ Motivating Speaker

It is essential you understand that any Tom, Dick or Harry can legally call himself or herself a ‘motivating speaker’. So simply finding someone listed as such on a website, or in a business directory, is no guarantee as to his or her ability to motivate an audience.

Would-be motivating presenters are inventing themselves on a daily basis. They see the perceived success, and other associated privileges that a top international, professional, motivating speaker appears to have, and think along the lines ‘I could do that – easy money, travel to exotic places, fast cars, top hotels etc’. Ask a top motivational presenter if that is fair reflection of their lifestyle and he or she is likely to reply ‘If only’. So what do you need to look out for in your search for in your quest?

3. Sourcing a Top Speaker

Type motivational speaker into a search engine and you can expect many million hits. This, of course, only partially helps you in your quest for the perfect speaker for your event! How many days have you set aside for this task? If you are thinking in hours, rather than weeks, then you are advised to read on:

Choosing a short list of potential candidates from the first two or three pages of a search engine listing seems, and is to some extent, a logical way to proceed. However, there are further issues that are worthy of your consideration:

4. Do I Directly Contact a Speaker or go via an Agent or Bureau?

Speaker agents and bureaus represent the majority of the best, professional speakers who specialise in motivational talks.

Agents are only interested in someone who is already established as a top professional speaker. They proactively promote the speaker, putting a speaker’s name forward to conference organisers and the like. They charge a fee to the speaker for this service, usually based on a percentage of the speaker’s fee for the occasion. For effective ‘numbers’ management reasons, the choice of motivational speaker found through an agent, can be limiting.

Bureaus tend to be dedicated to providing conference organisers, corporations, associations, and educational institutions with a large selection of professional speakers from which to choose. Too much choice can be their biggest disadvantage.

A so-called Motivational Speaker, good or bad, experienced or amateur, will also often represent their own interests, and so it may be useful if I now provide a few tips on how to identify an established, professional motivating speaker of quality from a large pool of the Johnny-come-lately brigade.

5. With a Quality Speaker – Talent Will Shine Through

Top position for a ‘motivational speaker’ on search engines usually fluctuates from one day to the next, so compose a short-list from the first two or three pages, and you are ready to begin.

It is worth of bearing in mind that sponsored links for motivational presenters are there because someone is prepared to pay, sometimes-large amounts, to jump to the front of the queue of other speakers. Whereas this is an admirable indication that they are prepared to invest in advertising, it does not necessarily follow that you will receive the best value for your money. Here is an easy way to narrow down your short list:

6. Establish the Experience of the Speaker

Retype that which you originally searched for, into the search engine, and add one of the names you have recorded in your short list e.g. Motivational Speaker + His or Her Name.

Now you can better determine whether that particular speaker has the expertise you require. You will also have an indication as whether or not an agent or bureau represents them as a ‘motivation’ speaker.

7. Carefully Research the Speaker’s Testimonials

Any speaker, worthy of consideration, will have a selection of testimonials from previous clients available for you to view on his or her website. Ensure companies and individuals are named. Descriptions such as ‘A senior manager at a large well-known company said….’, are of little to no value, and should start alarm bells ringing. Look for named sources from quality companies. Such individuals are usually very selective about which motivational speaker they are prepared to recommend as their own reputation could be on the line.

8. Can the ‘Motivation’ Speaker Motivate?

It may sound obvious, but the most important trait required by a motivational presenter is an ability to motivate. Tragically, some meetings organisers have previously discovered, to their considerable cost, that it does not necessarily follow that a professional ‘motivating’ presenter can motivate.

Nor can it be assumed that someone described as a ‘celebrity motivational presenter’ can be expected to somehow inspire your audience by simply turning up on the day. Talks provided by a top speaker are carefully structured and based upon a science that is studied by few and practised by even fewer.

Ensure your choice of speaker has proven credentials, and don’t assume that members of a related, professional body, are somehow qualified and suitable. Minimal experience as a speaker and the price of a membership fee are all that is required, in qualification, to becoming a member of some such organisations.

Being published on motivating techniques, through a reputable source, is a good indication of the expertise needed to work as a top motivation speaker. Use the method described in Tip 6 above to obtain a quick and easy result.

Ideally, watch videos of the speaker performing, and listen to the audience reaction to determine whether he or she has a rapport with the audience. Rapport and humour are essential ingredients in the ‘motivation’ cake. If, when watching video clips provided by the presenter, you are not laughing, then your audience are not likely to laugh either! Laughter is an essential part of motivation.

9. Cost Issues Regarding a Quality Motivating Presenter

Ideally you should have some idea of a ‘speaker fee’ budget before commencing your search for a suitable speaker. The costs in hiring a motivating speaker can vary dramatically and are dependent on the location of venue, numbers of delegates attending, the duration of the required motivational speech and the quality and popularity of the speaker. My advice is this – if your meeting is worth holding it is worth investing in an experienced and proven speaker with the ability to motivate others. Paying the little bit more often produces an immensely worthwhile investment.

Whether you deal with the speaker direct, or through an agent or bureau, should purely be a matter of choice. In theory the fees quoted from an agent, bureau or the speaker direct should be the same.

If you are interested in a celebrity speaker you are unlikely to find direct contact details for that person, and your only line of enquiry will need to be through an agent or bureau specialising in celebrity speakers who excel in motivation.

Agents that actively promote a speaker have a good idea of the fee normally required to secure a speaker’s services and will share that figure with you when you make your initial enquiry. It is wise to obtain an all-in-fee from an agent.

A bureau’s commission is normally obtained from the speaker. This commission can vary but normally falls between 15% and 30%. If they do not have a particular presenter on their books they are usually happy to trace them and make any arrangements on your behalf.

Few professional speakers work with only one agent or bureau. If there is no mention of exclusivity on promotional material you can assume there is not. This, in effect means, that if you come across a speaker of your choice, and he or she supplies contact details, this is an implied permission for you to contact him or her direct and independently negotiate a speaker fee. Your aim should be to obtain value for money.

10. Information Normally Required by a Professional Speaker.

If you are contacting a speaker direct, and you have researched him or her as advised, you will be confident in knowing you are speaking with the right person for the job.

Should you decide on taking the agent or bureau route, the first thing you need to make perfectly clear, for the reasons described in Tip 8 above, is that you are seeking a ‘motivational’ speaker.

Next supply the date of the event. A top speaker is usually very popular and you can save yourself a lot of time, and disappointment, by establishing their availability early in the proceedings. It is perfectly acceptable to ask if you can provisionally hold a particular presenter for a few days until a final decision is made.

Good meetings organisers will usually provide a description of the objectives and purpose of a conference, venue, size and type of audience and the duration of the talk required. You also need to clearly state what you expect from the speaker.

By way of example you might say ‘at the end of your motivating talk I want the delegates to be laughing and enjoying the meeting. They need to have been entertained, educated, motivated and inspired to eventually return to their place of work and put into action some of the great tips we will be providing at other times during the conference’.

The best motivational presenters provide tried and tested presentations that are skilfully adapted to fit in with the theme of your meeting and will usually meet your requirements fully. For your own peace-of-mind obtain a written agreement of the terms agreed and, where possible, a guarantee of total satisfaction.

To Summarise – What’s Needed to Source a Top Motivational Speaker

a) Use a search engine to source a speaker.

b) Produce a short-list of potential presenters.

c) Establish the credibility of the speaker by including their name and area of expertise in a further search of the web.

d) Where possible watch videos of the speaker in action to determine whether they establish a rapport with the audience and their overall style of delivery is as required. Laughing is an essential part of successful motivation.

e) Check the speaker for quality by researching named testimonials provided by his or her previous clients.

f) Contact the speaker’s, agent or bureau and establish availability, cost etc.

g) Supply the necessary information required by the speaker.

And finally:

h) Obtain some form of contract with the speaker or agent that includes a guarantee of satisfaction were possible.

So there you have it: my tips on sourcing a motivational speaker. I wish you every success in your search.

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