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Can a Motivational Speaker Hurt Your Business?

If your organization is going to be producing some sort of seminar or training for your employees, then chances are you might be considering hiring a motivational speaker for your event. While finding someone who can inspire and educate your team to perform at a higher level, its important to keep in mind that not all of them are cut from the same cloth.

Beware The Cheesy Motivational Speaker

The stereotypical speaker comes blazing onto the stage, standing tall as they speak words of wisdom with the fervor of an evangelist, and tell everyone in the room how to change their lives. They shout one-liners trying to pump up your crowd and talk about how great they are.

They sign copies of their book at the end of their speech, collect their paycheck, and move their caravan to the next town. While there are certainly some speakers who earn every penny they charge, far too many leave more empty promises than results as they drain your company’s account.

Hiring The Right Motivational Speaker

If you’ve made the decision to hire a motivational speaker for your next staff meeting or engagement, take a minute to thoroughly review the type of speaker you’d be hiring. There are many different variations, but generally they fall into one of two categories.

The first category, and the one you should do your best to avoid, is the type that relies on the power of speech alone and nothing else. Although they sound knowledgeable at first, the words that come from this type of speaker hold very little substance and aren’t grounded in reality. They’re great at giving your employees a pep-talk with anecdote-laced exclamations and persuasive speeches, but if you ask those same employees after the meeting exactly what they’ve learned, you’ll usually receive a generic response involving how they feel rather than any practical knowledge they can use in the future.

The other category will be far more useful to both your staff and your business. They might speak with the same fervor as members of the previous category, but these speakers have solid content in their speeches to back up their words. Their methods are tried and true, with a proven track record of success behind them. Your employees should come away with concrete ideas that have substance, not intangible pipe dreams.

Choosing The Appropriate Speaker

When deciding to hire a speaker, look for someone who actually offers something concrete for their listeners to hold onto. Ideally you’ll have a good idea of what the speaker will discuss ahead of time, and they should be able to let you know not only what information they’ll be imparting to your employees, but how those employees can apply that information practically in their work.

According to, “When working with any speaker, they should be able to summarize very clearly a handful of key topics they will be presenting. Most professionals will have a handful of topics they discuss along with a brief outline so you know what you can expect.”

If your prospective speaker can’t offer this before you pay them, chances are you’d be better off continuing your search. Most professionals should be able to provide you not only with an outline of what they are going to teach your employees, but evidence from past successful seminars in which they have conducted.

Finally, always be wary of those who claim to be experts in their given field. With the invention of the internet nearly anyone can consider themselves an “expert”, spouting half-baked advice as though it were absolute truth.

Real “experts” won’t need to promote their expertise more than a sentence or two to establish authority, so if your prospective speaker touts themselves a little too much, it’s a good sign to keep looking.

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