I am a Motivational Speaker. This must be the World’s worst job title. Ever.
I cringe when people ask what I do. I have to try and find a non-cringe way of explaining, ‘Well, I am a professional speaker, you know, kind of motivational stuff’.
Truth is, I can’t motivate anyone to do anything. Motivation is not something that can be given out by a person and received by another. Our own personal motivation lies within each of us - a burning inferno, a tiny pilot light, or somewhere on a massive spectrum between the two. The best I can hope for when I speak, is that I inspire someone to do something new or different, and that their motivation gets a rocket fuelled boost.
I often speak at the start of the day, to get the audience thinking in an ‘open’ and less rigid way, which can be quite helpful if the boss is about to deliver bad news or crazy targets to the staff. I talk about how they could start to adopt the principles of ‘World Class Thinking and World Class Behaviour’. Targets start to feel more achievable as delegates silently unravel their performance blocks, self limiting beliefs and reluctance to take any risks in life.
Speaking after lunch has never bothered me (most speakers hate this slot) - I quite like the challenge of encouraging a fire in a full belly! The audience get a wake up call when they reflect on the way they operate on a daily basis, and start to unleash new ideas and new goals. They are reminded of how their thinking has a direct impact on how they behave, and what level of success they achieve. Suddenly options and possibilities open up in their minds and they start to shift impatiently, in their velvet covered chairs.
The last slot of the day is also a treat for me. I walk on stage to see conference-tired faces, slumped bored bodies, the odd yawn and heads down checking emails. If half way through my 45 mins, I haven’t shifted their body language and torn them away from their mobiles then I have failed. If I haven’t captured them in a world of new possibilities and made them laugh out loud, then I have failed.
As you can imagine I spend a disproportionate amount of time at conferences and events, so I see all sort of speakers in action. I often sit in my red velvet chair with the gold painted metal legs and frame (you know- the ones that stack) and contemplate how these speakers were selected. Budget? Availability? Recommendation? I rarely feel the agenda was crafted sufficiently to get the best out of the speaker and the most impact for the audience.
Of course, it’s not just all in the timing. Finding the right speaker to complement the aim of the conference is vital. Choosing a ‘budget’ speaker may well meet the needs of the piggy bank, but if delegates don't leave feeling anything other than itching to get away to put things into action, then you may have missed a valuable trick.
Keynote Speaker (see what I did there)
“The content of Penny’s presentation was inspiring and emotive and linked into the key themes of our conference. It definitely met our objectives. The audience were completely engaged and some were clearly moved by Penny’s presentation. Outstanding.” British Franchise Association
Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, Author