Transforming Motivational Speaking

Changing The World One Crowd At A Time

Written by Dr Richard Bolstad

Transformations International Consulting & Training Ltd

Positivity: The Friend in The Back Row

I haven't always been a public speaker. In fact, as a child I was afraid of speaking in front of groups. When I was eleven years old, I came home from school one day with a crisis. The next day I had to stand up in front of the class and give a speech. I couldn't do it. I told my father I was terrified. My father asked me how the desks were set up in my class -- they were in rows facing the front. He told me that the secret was to find a friend sitting in the back row, and pretend that that boy was the only one in the room, and that I was telling him about my favorite topic. My father explained that other people would not be able to tell where my eyes were focused. He said he had used the technique many times.... Basically, I tried it, and ... It worked.

In fact, it worked so well, that within five years, as president of the "School Council" at my High School, I was comfortably running an "assembly" of 500 students and performing in dramas and debating competitions in front of the same size groups. The next year I was speaking in front of hundreds of people at anti-war demonstrations and eventually I stepped into a career where I simply take talking to large groups for granted. Over the years in my career as a trainer, I have spoken to groups from two to two thousand in size, and I've learned many more little secrets like looking at that friend in the back row. And in this article, I want to tell you enough so you can enjoy doing the same. Whether you have a career as a motivational speaker, or just have one challenging event coming up, here's how we do it.

But here's the most interesting thing from that story. I no longer need to have a real "friend in the back row". The friend was simply what NLP would call an "anchor" - an internal prompt to remind me to be in the state of mind where I would enjoy talking, and make what I was saying seem personal rather than like a "speech". My aim in this article is not just to be, as my father was, a mentor. Because mentors come and go. My aim is to introduce you to your own inner "friend in the back row". The first thing that friend can show you is that if you thought speaking would be challenging, then maybe it's just a matter of learning some specific techniques. The friend in the back row is the first "technique" I wanted to tell you about.

Following in this article are some other things a good friend in the back row might point out for you. But to begin, I already know that when I told you my story, you remembered a friend from school -- someone who could form the basis for building an imaginary "friend in the back row". Someone you would enjoy telling about cool stuff, and who would listen fascinated and join in. Whether that person ever really existed, or whether they are an imaginary person you just wish had existed, is not so important. What is important is to imagine them now, and begin putting them in the back row of every group you plan to teach.

Remember: Motivational speaking is just like getting a friend excited about something.

Parables: Why Do You Teach In Stories?

What is the secret to influencing thousands of people and having that influence ripple through history? It may seem strange, but the most important secret is to tell a story. One day, supposedly, someone asked Jesus of Nazareth about his teaching style - "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He answered by quoting the earlier Jewish prophet Isaiah, saying that his aim was that people could be led through stories so "they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn and be healed." (Christian Bible, Mathew, 13.15 and Isaiah, 6.10). More literally, the reply is put in older translations, "so that those with eyes should see, those with ears should hear, and those with a heart turn to me and be healed." What he says is that not everyone gets the message the same way, and stories have a much better chance of making sense to all your listeners.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming, the science behind much of motivational speaking) we say that by using metaphorical stories we activate all the sensory areas in the brain. Sometimes people have a preference for visual, auditory or kinesthetic, so including all three makes sure our story gets to more people. Telling a story enables them to experience the message in synch with the storyteller. Researchers at Princeton University in 2010 first demonstrated with fMRI brain scans that when one person tells a story and another person listens, the two people show synchronised brain activity. This synchronisation, or to use the NLP term "rapport", does not occur where mere facts are transmitted, and it is due to the activation of sensory imagery evoked by the story in both teller and listener. To understand your story, the listener imagines it in all sensory systems.

If you have an important message to get across, the best way to connect with your audience is to begin with a story. You can then draw a key point from that story, and listeners will understand your point in terms of the specific images, sounds and sensations evoked by that story rather than making random connections to their own experiences. You can then explain how they could practically use that key point in their life, giving instructions which they are much more likely to follow. This sequence is called in sales an "Incident-Point-Benefit" sales pitch. You tell a story of an incident, make the key point, and then explain how the person could use that point to benefit themselves.

The most powerful way to make that connection is by telling either your own personal stories, or stories about people that the listeners already have some reason to believe have benefited from the point. For the salesperson, that includes previous customers. For me explaining this to you, it includes famous successful teachers. I could also begin with a quote from a successful teacher, with an unanswered question about successful teachers, or with a surprising statistic about successful teachers. But the simplest way to begin is to tell a good story.

So where do you find good stories? Well, since you want to communicate some idea to someone, that idea is already important to you. That means you have had some experience where you realised that this was an important learning, or you had some experience and later on when you heard the idea described you realised that was a good way to summarise your own experience. So the answer is to search for your own experiences first. When you tell a story that you have really experienced yourself, then it has the emotional power to move first you and then someone else whose brain synchronises with yours.

Successful motivational speakers pay a lot of attention to what in their experiences might be unique. What is not only true for them, but can be said in a way that no-one else is quite saying it. For example, I have done training in places where there have been wars, or natural disasters, so in explaining how to be resilient in challenging situations, I refer back to memories of what happened in those situations that I actually experienced myself. In a sense, every motivational speaker is at the end of a heroic journey: the part where they come back and share their experiences with others.

No-one's journey is quite the same as yours and so no-one can be better at teaching YOUR message than you. Your story doesn't have to be "dramatic" in the sense that Hollywood movies are dramatic however. In the last section I told you the story of a time when I was asked to talk in front of my class at primary school, and the advice my father gave me. A story can be that simple. To prove the point, before you read on to the next section, identify a story from your own experiences, choose one point you could make based on that story, and work out how you would encourage someone who wanted to be a speaker to use that point.

Remember: Telling your own story and making a point from it synchronises with people better than facts.

Proactivity: Great Speech -- Now Let's March!

In the fourth century BC, Isocrates and Demosthenes were considered the greatest political orators in Athens. Their styles could not have been more different. Isocrates was a publisher of pamphlets whose aim was to educate, to encourage people to learn and to make clearer judgements based on their learnings. As a speaker he had a smooth, regular style, but he despised extravagant claims and orators who distorted the truth to gain some effect.

Demosthenes, however, was interested not so much in what was "true" at present, as in what could be "made true" by the actions he advocated. Accused at times of dishonest dealings behind the scenes, he was none-the-less admired for his ability to convince others to dream great dreams, and go out and act on them. Demosthenes' speeches were dramatic, varied in style, and motivational. The story goes that when Isocrates spoke, people said "Great speech!", but when Demosthenes spoke, they said "Let's march!" (Saunders, 1970, p 13-21).

On the one hand, Demosthenes was a con-man, and the world has plenty of speakers who do that today. We don't need another person to copy that. On the other hand, Demosthenes is the world's first recorded "Motivational Speaker", and he really knew how to get people into action, how to motivate them. If Isocrates and all the other honest educators could have learned how to speak so that others said "Let's march!", imagine how different history would have been. Motivational speaking is more than just educating. People can learn things from the internet for free, but they will pay thousands of dollars to experience a great motivational speaker because that speaker gets them to take action that really changes their lives. To be that kind of speaker, you need to understand how motivation works.

The focus of motivational speaking is on "Why?" ("Why would you want to change?") rather than on "What?" ("What could be different?") or even on "How?" ("How do you do this new thing?"). Put another way, motivational speaking is a kind of sales, and a good salesperson focuses on how their product will benefit you, not on what features their product has. They talk about what problems you will avoid and what goals you will reach, when you buy that product, and not just about how cool their product is. As I said above, one great way to demonstrate the importance of doing something is to tell a story about how someone needed to do that thing, did it, and benefitted from doing it. Then, after telling the story and making the point, a good motivational speaker, like a good salesperson, "asks for the sale". They ask you to do something.

Asking the audience to do something can begin as simply as asking them to raise their hands to show whether they have faced the kind of challenge you are talking about, or asking them to tell the person beside them what they have learned. Once you have asked them to do something and elicited their cooperation, then they are more likely to actually do something important. The principle is that once people have engaged in some new behaviour, they tend to keep doing similar behaviours, in order to seem congruent (to themselves, and to others). In the field of social psychology there is considerable research on this (Myers, 1983, p 44-69). For example, usually, 46% of Toronto residents asked to contribute to the Cancer society fundraising drive actually do so. However, in one study residents were asked, on the day before the drive, to wear a lapel pin advertising the fundraising. All those approached agreed to do so, and the contribution rate from these people, the next day, was 90%. Having done one behaviour (wearing the pin) they were twice as likely to complete other similar behaviours later. In sales, this is known as the "foot in the door" phenomenon.

You could experiment with this. Next time you want to ask someone for something, ask them to do something small and easy first, and notice how, by agreeing, they become less defensive and more open to your main proposal.

Remember: Asking for commitments to act enables your audience to actually benefit from your talk.

Practice: Getting Your Foot In The Door

Here are eight of the most famous motivational speakers of the last fifty years: Jim Rohn, Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Bryan Tracy, Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Og Mandino, Robert Kiyosaki. What do they have in common? Well firstly, half of them trained with one of the others. Hansen, Canfield, Tracy and Robbins all worked first with Jim Rohn. So the first secret they reveal about becoming a motivational speaker is: train with other motivational speakers. But there is something even more dramatic.

Every one of them did the same job before they began their career as a motivational speaker. Every one of them! You probably guessed they were in sales, but it's even more precise: every one of them was a door-to-door salesman! In 1978, Anthony Robbins was selling music subscriptions door-to-door (and making $3,000 a month). That's when he got the job working for Jim Rohn. The grand-daddy of personal development, Dale Carnegie, left college in 1908 to sell correspondence courses door to door, to cattle ranchers. He then moved on to selling pig products for Armour and Company, making his franchise the most successful in the country.

What does it take to be so successful selling door to door? It takes resilience, because you are going to be rejected angrily again and again. It takes attention to the very first things you say, because usually those are the only things you get to say. It requires the ability to literally enter into each other person's own world, and talk in ways that make sense to them, instead of waiting until THEY have chosen YOU. And finally, it requires the willingness to repeat the same proposal, perhaps gradually refining it, thousands and thousands of times. A door to door salesman cannot be a person who always wants to say something new and different.

So how can you "model" the success of these eight amazing speakers? Firstly, by studying motivational speeches. And to help you, have you noticed that I am rehearsing you through a series of motivational speeches as I explain this now. Each section in this article is a mini motivational speech. Each section begins with a story or a surprising fact or a quote. Each section makes a key point, or two or three key points. Each section asks you to take some specific action. Want to practice motivational speaking? Read a section out loud -- it will take just 3-5 minutes, and now you are learning the same way the great speakers always learn, by copying first, and then developing their own style.

When you speak out loud to a large group, there are some other important points to consider about what to do AS you speak. Julia Kurusheva and Nakul Riswadkar discuss the art of public speaking in their book "Overcome Anxiety from Inside Out" and recommend:

  • Vary your voice tonality and speed. Varying tonality can help you imply questioning (a rising tonality) statement (a level tonality) or command (a lowering tonality). Pausing allow you to punctuate your speech, and to breathe.

  • Project your voice, and get feedback about how loud you are coming across.

  • Vary your gestures. Borrow gestures that you see other inspiring speakers use.

  • Make generalised eye contact with the audience, using peripheral, slightly defocused relaxed vision (remember the friend in the back row).

  • If you lose track of where you are, or realise you forgot to say something, don't apologise and explain what happened - simply pause and start again (what Kurusheva and Riswadkar call a "recovery strategy")

  • Give yourself time to breathe - you are speaking while breathing out, so then you need to pause to fully breathe in, or you would get breathless.

Speaking in front of a large group for a prolonged time takes planning and practice. Fitting your speech within specific time constraints is also a skill that requires practice.

"There was once a meeting planner who phoned a professional speaker in order to book him for an upcoming event. The planner's first question was "How much do you charge?" The speaker replied, "It depends on the length of the talk you want me to give and the amount of time it takes for preparation."

The meeting planner then asked, "How much would you charge for a thirty-minute talk, and how long would it take to prepare?"

The speaker replied, "For a thirty-minute talk, it would require six to eight hours to prepare, and the fee would be $ 5,000."

The meeting planner was surprised. "How much would you charge for a half-day talk, and how long would it take to prepare?" he asked.

The speaker replied, "For a half-day talk, it would take about three to four hours to prepare, and it would cost $ 4,000."

"What about a full-day talk? How much is that?"

"That would only cost $ 3,000."

"How long would you require to prepare?" asked the meeting planner.

"Oh," said the speaker, "if it is a full-day talk, I can start now.""

(B. Tracy, 2016, Kindle Location 334).

Like a door to door salesman, a motivational speaker writes out the words they are planning to say, and rehearses their speech again and again, not just reading it silently, but actually speaking it aloud, and if possible getting feedback. Every city in the world has places such as Toastmasters, where you can practice speaking and get skilled peer feedback. At a Toastmasters club meeting you will be given the opportunity to deliver a two minute impromptu speech (on a "Table Topic" set by an assigned person) or even to deliver a prepared speech with specific targets that you want feedback about. Feedback is delivered in a precise format to be positive, even while recommending improvements. Join a speech club unless you are getting regular practice in your current career. The entire basic Toastmasters recommendations for speakers can be downloaded as a zipped file of PDF brochures and slideshows by clicking this address. Understandably, they overlap with what I am saying here. Download them now!

Remember: Practice varying your tonality, your speed of delivery and your emphasis. Practice speaking louder and breathing calmer. Practice your specific planned speech many, many times.

Preparation: The Devil is in the Details ... Unless You Plan Them First

The largest training organisation in the United States today (the organisation that has the most students) is also the largest employer of high school students. They began in 1952, when Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman, walked into a hamburger stand in San Bernadino, and saw the most amazing system of hamburger production. Mac and Jim MacDonald owned the stand, and the high school students they had working for them dealt with the long line of customers with a precision that Ray Kroc had never seen before. The success of that first McDonalds hamburger stand was not in the hamburger recipe; it was in the logistics which made it run so smoothly. Ray Kroc's genius was his ability to model this efficiency and train others to do likewise, setting up 15,000 similar restaurants around the world (Gerber, 1995, p 80-82).

MacDonalds didn't have a better hamburger than anyone else. They didn't have more choices than anyone else either. They simply had a more efficient system for reliably producing the same hamburger every time. And it's the same with motivational speaking. If you want to create a career in this field you need a system for generating reliably the same quality speech EVERY time. And that means paying attention to the following eight categories of technical details that need to be functioning perfectly every time:

  • In a larger group you need a microphone. There are three types of microphone, the ones you hold in your hand, the ones you pin to your lapel, and the ones that clip onto your ears like reverse spectacles and circle round to in front of your mouth. Go to a sound equipment shop and find out how to use each kind, and also check which kind is your preference, because organisers are going to ask you. Find out what your system sounds like from the other side of the room before you start each time.

  • You need a PowerPoint (Windows) or Keynote (Mac) side show prepared with all your key points, and a laptop to run them from. Learn how to use slideshows in "Presenter view" so you can see the time and see which slide comes up next. Get a remote control or at least a mouse so you can operate the slides from across the room. Check what the slides look like from the other side of the room, with the lighting you plan to use. If you can't easily read the slides, or if there are too many words on each slide, then using them distracts people from your speech. Slides are for key points and visual illustrations, not to replace a handout or transcript. Have HDMI and the older parallel connectors for connecting the laptop to the slide projector (beamer) in case the venue doesn't have ones that fit your machine.

  • You need a wallchart with wallchart paper, or a whiteboard, and a set of coloured pens. Bring your own pens because many venues do not keep a really functional set. If you wrote with a worn out pen, the audience would assume that was your failing, rather than the venue's failing. Practice writing large and check that your writing can be read across the other side of the room, or don't use wallcharts at all. As with slides, unreadable wallcharts just distract people from listening. Readability is more important than being "artistic" or detailed with key points.

  • Create a catchy title for your talk, and write a few sentences explaining what value it will be to listeners. This is the program description that your organizer needs for advertising, in order to convince people to attend, and it takes almost as long to write this as it takes to plan your talk. It is best written in the present active injunctive with verbs saying what you are telling the audience to do (e.g. "Create speeches that energise and inspire people") rather than the present continuous decriptive (e.g. "Learning how to be inspiring, and energising people is important for you."), the future descriptive (e.g. "We will learn how to inspire and energise people.") or as a descriptive future tense statement of what you will do (e.g. "I will explain the difference between energizing and boring speeches."). Yes, injunctive commands sound "bossy" when you are not used to writing that way, and yes they motivates people better. The program description needs to list goals, and estimate timing, and possibly explain your style of presentation, but it does not simply reveal the whole speech. It makes the audience want to hear the speech. Do not let the organizer write this advertisement. It is skilled work.

  • Create a short written three sentence introduction to you that lets the audience know you have credibility, either generally or in this subject. This is for the organizer to read out when they introduce you. It makes it easier for them if you tell them what to say, and the recommendation sounds more credible when they say it than if you said the same things.

  • Have written feedback forms ready to hand out (and do not trust that the audience will get around to sending you feedback on line. People are busy). The feedback forms need to ask their permission to quote from their comments with their name, and with some indication in what area they plan to use the things they learn. These feedback results become the testimonials you will provide future organisers.

  • Create a handout with all the key points that are on your slides and an address where people can message you after, to hire you for further events.

  • Create a model contract that you can send to the organizer. This contract specifies:

  1. The fee you want to be paid for the talk (and since a single hour talk takes days of preparation and often requires putting aside the whole day to run successfully, that needs to be a lot)

  2. The costs in terms of travel tickets, travel time, accommodation and food that you will use in order to be available fresh and energized.

  3. How and when the fees will be paid, and who is responsible for paying them.

  4. The time at which the arrangement becomes uncancellable and what fees need to be paid even if it is cancelled before that time (you will be setting aside the time instead of accepting other work during that time, so even when you haven't bought travel tickets yet, there are costs). It is just like what happens with booking hotels and AirB&B.

  5. Whether you are willing to have the talk recorded, whether you want a copy, who owns such recordings, and what you will be paid for letting the organizer sell the recordings if you agree to that.

  6. The room setup and equipment you need. If you want people to move around then having seats in a lecture theatre won't work very well. If you are using a slide show then you need a projector and a blank wall or screen to project on.

  7. A statement of the topic, and audience requirements. If you are assuming that people know certain things or have certain qualifications before they attend, then that is best spelled out in writing. If you need people to attend the speech from the beginning, or to attend another speech before this one, then that needs to be written down.

  8. A brief explanation of any audience participation you want to happen, such as practicing in pairs, so they know what to expect.

Notice that at times the organizer will have their own contract which they ask me to sign. My own version then provides a kind of checklist of other issues to check with them, and may ask extra things from me. Universities, as an example, often have a dress code (I need to wear a tie and jacket) and require my proposal to list behavioural objectives of my speech (what will students be able to do at the end of hearing the speech). EO (The Entrepreneurs Organisation) requires me to specify what concrete gift or advantage will their members receive as a result of attending the talk.

OK. That is a lot of preparation. To make it easier, I've appendixed an example document blank for an agreement for you to modify now. Read through it while these ideas are all fresh in your mind!

Remember: Pre-check and prepare your equipment, a slide set, a title and advertising blurb, an introduction to you, a feedback form, a handout with your key points from the slides, and a speaking contract to confirm fees, responsibilities, and preparations.

Professionalism: "Becoming Tony Robbins"

"Becoming Tony Robbins" is the dream of so many people who train with me in NLP. They tell me they can see themselves standing in front of crowds of thousands of people like he does. They know they have lots of cool things they want to tell those people. Most of them never actually do it. Usually, they have no idea what it would take to be successfully speaking in front of thousands of people. I don't mean what inner confidence it would take. Using NLP from a book such as "Transforming Anxiety From Inside Out", you can get confident, and you can also spend years learning cool NLP "tricks" to unconsciously influence people and to create an almost magical charisma. In this article I have left most of that unexplained. Instead, I have tried to give you the practical steps to create a career as a speaker. It's a career, and just thinking that you'd love to tell everyone all the cool things you've discovered ... that is not enough to really make it happen. You can't just "visualize" your way to a career as a Motivational Speaker, any more than you can "visualize" your way to a career as a neurosurgeon. Confidence is something that happens inside you, and you certainly benefit from having that. To be successful, you also need credibility, and that happens inside other people, and you need skills.

For me, Motivational Speaking is not my primary job, and I get offers to speak, at conferences for example, as a result of my credibility in my main career as a trainer. If you want to "go straight to being Tony Robbins" without building credibility in another career, then you need to pay much more attention to the specific basis of your credibility. The genuineness of your presentation (telling your own story, for example, and speaking with passion) certainly adds to credibility, as does the careful production and management of slides, handouts and advertising mentioned above. The next thing though is that to be credible as a speaker in the 21st century, you need to have an online presence. Sure, that means having at least a minimal online site, where you can direct people to message you and tell them about your next speeches. And it means posting on social media like Facebook and Linkedin. To be really convincing, it is best that your presence also includes podcasts (audio recordings which can then be available through Google PlayStore and iTunes), videos (any phone bought in the last few years has the ability to create internet-ready videos and load them to YouTube), and books (which can be self-published in paperback as well as e-book formats, via free publishing agencies such as Amazon's Createspace and Kindle).

The amazing thing is, creating podcasts, videos and even small books involves exactly the same skills you need to be a speaker anyway, so making these helps you practice and get better at your core business. These files become free samples of your products that people can try out and get comfortable with or get inspired by. Concerned that you can't manage and would prefer someone else takes your recordings and writing and converts it all to podcasts, videos and books? Anything technical that you need help with can be done by someone on Fiver a kind of marketplace for people with computer and other tech skills, where things are often very cheap (originally just a "fiver" i.e. $5 a time). If you are willing to do it all yourself for free, here are the instructions with the sites you can use....

1. Create a short series of podcasts. A series of maybe six short (e.g. 22 minutes) podcasts will enable you have something to give fans who enjoyed a one-off talk. You can record a talk using your computer. Audacity is a free recording program that you can download and use, but for really good quality it helps to have a microphone to plug into your computer (the one in the computer may sound tinny). You save the recording as an MP3 audio file and send it to a podcast hosting service such as Liberated Syndication or LibSync ($5 a month) and they convert it to a special podcast file format called RSS. You then upload the details of where that RSS file is, say, to iTunes for sale or delivery to the public. As a model, download "Better Choices for Life" the Podcast series by Julia Kurusheva and Nakul Riswadkar. It actually teaches you how to do public speaking more effectively, so it gives you content that is useful at the same time as providing a great model. Then study their book "Overcome Anxiety From Inside Out" which elegantly expands similar material into a complete manual on public speaking and on moving from anxiety to success in many other situations.

2. Create a "channel" on YouTube. If you can upload a photo or video to Facebook, you can upload videos to YouTube. That lets you embed videos on your internet site -- i.e. put them inside the pages so people can watch them while staying on your page. You upload onto YouTube from your phone camera or computer.

3. Publish a book, even if it only has the same number of pages as this article. The easiest way is using the Amazon subsidiary company CreateSpace. You get 30% to 70% royalties, instead of the 10% I used to get with publishers like Penguin. CreateSpace will tell you what their recommended price is for your book. Make your book 6 inches (width) by 9 inches (height). Such a book, with say 100 pages, may cost US$3 per copy to print, and US$3 per copy to mail copies to you. If you charge US$15 per copy you will get US$9 for each of your own copies that you sell. CreateSpace will get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and bar code for your book, free. They will send your book to Amazon to sell and sell it on their own CreateSpace site as well and you get US$8.40 for each book sold. You need to prepare and send them two files for your book. One is the cover file, and one is the book inner file. Both can be prepared in Microsoft Word or Libre Office and then converted to PDF to send to them. Details about preparing the two files (cover and inner) are available from the book "How to Self-Publish a Book on" by Chris McMullen. You can pay CreateSpace US$200-400 to have them design the book, or do it using McMullen's instructions for free. Once you have a CreateSpace book, you can have them send your PDF files to Kindle to create an ebook version. To do this successfully, all diagrams and photos need to be .jpg photo files (each jpg must be less than 140kb) locked into a set place in your text.

The online presence gives you credibility, but of course at some point you need to meet people. Unless you already have career links that enable you to get hired as a speaker, consider joining a speakers professional organization such as (in New Zealand) the National Speakers Association, and once you have practice link in to a bureau such as Celebrity Speakers, or Speakers New Zealand. Speakers New Zealand, for example, gives a list of over 250 New Zealand Motivational Speakers. New Zealand is a small country and this is only one bureau, yet you will be awed by the calibre of the speakers available. Browse through a few and read their descriptions. It is humbling for those who thought this was an easy career. Then remind yourself that none of them has exactly the experiences that you have had and exactly the frames you have.

Now, once you've done these things, you are becoming a professional speaker! You have a professional organisation, some samples of your work on line, and some testimonials from your first speeches. If this is your first opportunity to think through all this, then now is when you get working writing that first speech - the one you will convert into a podcast, a video and an online blog that is the beginning of your e-book! Go for it. Tony Robbins look out!

Remember: Create online resources that give you a background status as an expert speaker, including testimonials, an internet site, social media posts, podcasts, videos and an e-book. Then make connections with speakers' organisations where you can actually get hired.


OK. Let's check the key learnings here. You CAN be a great motivational speaker, and like anything, there are things you need to learn -- not by dreaming about it, but by practicing the 6 "P"s.

  • Positivity: Motivational speaking is just like getting a friend excited about something. See your friend in the back row.

  • Parables: Telling your own story and making a point from it synchronises with people better than facts. Create powerful stories and points.

  • Proactivity: Asking for commitments to act enables your audience to actually benefit from your talk.

  • Practice: Practice varying your tonality, your speed of delivery and your emphasis. Practice speaking louder and breathing calmer. Practice your specific planned speech many, many times.

  • Preparation: Pre-check and prepare your equipment, a slide set, a title and advertising blurb, an introduction to you, a feedback form, a handout with your key points from the slides, and a speaking contract to confirm fees, responsibilities, and preparations.

  • Professionalism: Create online resources that give you a background status as an expert, including testimonials, an internet site, social media posts, podcasts, videos and an e-book. Make connections with speakers' organisations where you can actually get hired.

Appendix: Sample Speaking Contract

Speaking Agreement

[This is a sample form, and you will need to modify it by altering details, deleting irrelevant passages and even adding passages, as appropriate for your situations]

Between XXXXX (Speaker) and XXXXX (Organiser) regarding a speech titled XXXXXXXXX, scheduled for the date of XXXXXXX, at XXXX to XXXX pm in the city of XXXX. A. Speaker agrees to: 1. Provide speech description copy for advertising, and a 3 minute video advert for on line advertising, within one week of this contract being signed. 2. Present the speech described above in the 3 hour time period specified (acting as an independent contractor). 3. Provide originals of written handouts and a one page feedback form for Organiser to (translate, if necessary, and) copy, and hand out to participants at the event, to the Organiser by at least 30 days before the event. These documents remain the intellectual property of the Speaker and may not be further copied without written permission. 4. Provide originals of a slideshow to (translate, if necessary, and) check, by 30 days before the event. This file remains the intellectual property of the Speaker and may not be further copied without written permission. 5. Provide a 3 sentence introduction to the Speaker, for the Organiser to read out, provided by 30 days before the event. B. Organiser will contact Speaker by 30 days or earlier before the start of the speech to confirm whether the speech is a definite event, in order for the speaker to secure travel tickets. Speaker will complete purchase of plane tickets only after Organiser confirms this.

C. The organiser agrees to: 1. Secure an appropriate comfortable size meeting room for the seminar participants to be seated. 2. Promote the seminar and gather an appropriate number of participants, not less than 10, and not more than 1000. 3. Set entrance fees, collect deposits and fees from participants, and provide refunds as the organiser sees fit. 4. Ensure all participants are over the age of 13 years, and coming of their own volition.

D. Sponsor agrees to pay trainer the appropriate fees and actual expense reimbursements as follows: 1. Economy airfare, plus any other necessary travel expenses to reach the workshop location - taxi, etc. 2. Hotel lodging and meals and if needed internet connection fees during the day of the speech. 3. Trainer Fees: XXXX plus transportation/accommodation cost. The speaker will advise the expected travel costs within one week of signing this agreement. These fees will be paid to the Speakers bank account Name XXXXXXX and number XXXXXXXX, at the Bank XXXXXXXXXXX, Swift code XXXXXXX, within 30 days of receipt of the account by email.

E. Logistics. 1. Organiser will provide a data projector with screen able to be seen by all participants, and with HDMI or parallel connection. The Speaker will bring a computer with HDMI port and copy of the slides to be used. 2. Organiser will provide a flip-chart stand and at least 10 flipcharts and two pens to write on the charts. 3. Participants will be expected to discuss in pairs at two points of the talk, and a 15 minute opportunity to ask questions will occur at the end. 4. Organiser will provide a lapel microphone and sound system adequate for the room hired.

F. Recording. The Organiser will advise the speaker of any audio or video recording of the event and will agree to provide a copy of this to the speaker within 30 days of the event. The Organiser will have joint ownership of this recording with the Speaker, provided that 20% of any funds generated by the sale of this recording by the Organiser will be paid as royalties to the Speaker.

G. Cancellation: Organiser can cancel the training at any time before Speaker has purchased plane tickets, with no money due to Speaker. (See Section B above.) If Organiser wishes to cancel after Organiser has confirmed the workshop and Speaker has purchased plane tickets, Organiser agrees to reimburse Speaker for the airfare and any other workshop expenses actually incurred by Speaker (see Section D).

Agreed: Speaker ...... Organiser ...... Date XX/XX/XXXX


  • Bolstad, R. The Training Secrets of NLP, Transformations, Auckland, 2016

  • Bruce, A. and Love, S. Speak For A Living, ATD Press, Alexandria, Virginia, 2018

  • Cialdini, R. B. Influence: Science and Practice, Harper Collins, New York, 1993

  • Dilts, R. and Epstein, T. , Dynamic Learning, Meta Publications, Capitola, 1995.

  • Gerber, M.E. The E Myth revisited, Harper Business, New York, 1995

  • Greenberg, D. "Tony Robbins Live!" in Success Magazine, p 68-73, April 1998

  • Kurusheva, J. and Riswadkar, N. Overcome Anxiety From Inside Out, Integrace, Auckland, 2017

  • Larsen, G. Transformational Speaking, Crown Publishing, New York, 2009

  • McMullen, C. How to Self-Publish a Book on, CreateSpace, 2009

  • Myers, D. G. Social Psychology, McGraw-Hill, Auckland,1983

  • Saunders, A. N. W. ed Greek Political Oratory, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, England, 1970

  • Stephens, G.J., Silbert, L.J. and Hasson, U. "Speaker--listener neural coupling underlies successful communication" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 18, 2010

  • Tracy, B. "The 6-Figure Speaker: The Ultimate Blueprint to Build a Business as a Highly-Paid Professional Speaker" Kindle Edition. Amazon, 2016

  • Wruck, K.H. and Eastley, M.F. "Landmark Education Corporation: Selling a Paradigm Shift" Harvard Business School Paper 9-898-081, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, 1997

Dr Richard Bolstad

Dr Richard Bolstad is a New Zealand born author, internationally recognised NLP Master Trainer, Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy, Chi Kung Instructor, Teacher, and Registered Nurse, who is widely known in the global NLP community for his promotion of research-based NLP.

Contact Richard:

Phone: +649 443 4134 or

Freephone: 0800 for NLP (0800 367657)