There are many types of public speakers (such as keynote speakers, industry experts and trainers), and all of them share certain characteristics that make them successful. But what sets motivational speakers apart from other professional speakers?

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Many people have interesting and engaging personal stories from their lives. What sets motivational speakers apart is that their story has a unique and awe-inspiring component. Whether it was completing a daring physical endeavour or overcoming rejection and prejudice, inspirational speakers are in demand because they were able to achieve success despite seemingly insurmountable odds, often with grace and humour. Therefore, what is captivating for audiences is not so much the facts of the speaker’s story but the human element – an effective motivational speaker is able to recount not just a good story but reflect on the simple acts of resilience, forgiveness and courage that allowed them to overcome their challenges.


The appeal of motivational speakers is that they are able to engage directly with their audience. Participants at a pep talk have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their own challenges with the speaker, gaining new insight into how they can achieve success. The model is obviously successful – there are over 5,000 motivational speakers working in the US alone. Therefore, it is important that inspirational speakers are able to connect effectively with their audience (this may mean tailoring their message and presentation style) as well as a deliver an engaging performance.

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Motivational speakers need to be able to connect with their audience on a personal and emotional level. Unlike most other professional speakers, who simply relay facts or information, the goal of an inspirational speaker is to motivate a change of perspective in their audience. This is done by building trust and empathy through their message but also by being personable and relatable. While keynote speakers and industry experts like to emphasise their unique knowledge and credentials, a good motivational speaker focuses on their similarities and shared experiences with the audience.


The best inspirational speakers are the ones that are constantly improving themselves and refining their message. While one exceptional experience may be inspirational, a dedicated pundit will actively seek out new experiences to test their message in real life as well as to gain new insights that they can pass on to their audience.