Everyone is a motivational speaker

In a recent email conversation, I was referred to as a motivational speaker. While it feels great to hear your name associated with that title, I immediately thought that was far from true.

Last week I “applied” for an audition to give a TED talk, but my 1-minute YouTube video hardly qualifies me as a motivational speaker.

But then I started thinking about what the qualifications really are to be considered a motivational speaker.

Just for a minute, let’s forget about all the typical stuff we associate with motivational speakers. Throw out the qualifications, the money that changes hands, the required experience, the stage, thousands of people in the audience…

Let’s just look at that phrase for what it is. It requires only 2 things to be true.

  1. Did you verbally say something that was heard by another?
  2. Did it make them want to go do something?

It might be as simple as you saying to a friend, “Hey. Let’s go to the gym tomorrow to get a solid workout in.” Or when a friend asks you what you think about this potential new job, and you say, “You’d be great at that.” Or when your buddy hasn’t had a vacation in 2 years, and you tell him, “Dude, maybe you should take some time off. You deserve it.”

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s just semantics. And some of it is.

But it’s about more than that. It’s about helping people realize that what they have to say is valuable. It means something. And to some people, it means a whole lot of something.

You don’t need a bunch of letters after your name to matter. You don’t need multiple degrees. You don’t need years of experience, a stage or an audience of thousands.

You just need to say what you have to say… from the heart… and mean it.

And if you can do that, then you, my friend, are a motivational speaker.