Secrets of Motivational Speaking

Becoming a motivational speaker is easier than it sounds. The Public Speaker Lisa B. Marshall offers up some tips to a listener.

Lisa B. Marshall,
October 12, 2015

I frequently get asked about how to become a motivational speaker. Recently, a young woman studying speech asked for a brief informational interview with me. She asked me some great questions so I thought I'd share the interview.

Ianne: Lisa, I appreciate you letting me ask you these questions. I’d like to be a motivational speaker one day, and I know you’re the best person for me to speak to about this.

Lisa: Thanks for the kind words, Ianne! I'll do my best.  What can I help you with?

Ianne: First, can you tell me how long you’ve been doing public speaking and who hires you?

Lisa: I’ve been speaking publicly for more than 15 years, on both educational and inspirational topics. I’ve had a wide range of professional clients, including a beauty queen, a rabbi, and a billionaire. But usually I’m hired by organizations and companies that employ doctors, scientists, engineers, and financial professionals.  

Ianne: Do you ever get nervous in front of an audience? Does speaking in front of so many highly educated and intelligent people rattle you?

Lisa: Rarely, but yes, once or twice I've been nervous. It really depends on the audience and the reason I was hired. But I usually just get nervous when I am delivering new material. For me, practice is critical to controlling my nerves.

Ianne: So, let’s say you’ve practiced a lot, but you’re still nervous. What do you do?

Lisa: Breathing, humor, visualization, and distraction are great methods. And visualization doesn’t mean visualizing everyone in their underwear! It means visualizing details of the whole day going well, from morning to evening. This is very calming. But distraction is the biggest help for me. The best way I’ve found to avoid feeling nervous just before a presentation is to have a conversation with someone. I like to walk around and talk with audience members, or shake hands and have conversations when the delegates are walking in, or if it's a dinner event, to talk to my table mates.   

Ianne: So, what advice can you give that will help others become more confident public speakers?

Lisa: Well, I’ve dedicated my entire career to helping people with that! In a nutshell, I would say:

First, learn as much as you can about your topic. Read as much as you can, attend conferences, read research studies—do whatever it takes to know your topic. The more you know, the more confident you will become. 

Next, learn to control nerves and breathing. I have some great episodes about this: Does Public Speaking Make You Nervous?, Overcoming Nervousness, The Secret To Great Public Speaking, and How To Breathe.

Third, learn to let your natural enthusiasm show, and learn the basics of public speaking. The Secret to Great Public Speaking and How to Be a Great Guest Speaker will help you with that.

Next, subscribe to my podcasts to fine-tune your skills:



Finally, practice, practice, practice!!!  Get in front of as many people as possible to deliver practice speeches. Video record and review every speech you make. Pick one thing to continue doing and pick one thing to fix for the next time. Finally, consider joining Toastmasters and The National Speaker's Association. These organization are designed to help its members become better speakers and better at the business of speaking.  

Ianne: Wow, thanks so much for your great ideas, Lisa! This is a big help. I’m inspired to be a good communicator like you, and I’m definitely going to check out those episodes.

Lisa: I was glad to help!

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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