What exactly is a motivational speaker?

What is a exactly is a motivational speaker? For me it was my Mum, who motivated me with threats of “wait till your father gets home.” (this was parenting, 1970s style).

Now, it seems, all one has to do is to fail, or be clueless, on National TV and promptly announce oneself as a MotSpe (I’m bringing some latitude into my acronym-generation here.)

To me there are two distinct types of MotSpe; there is the legitimate, I’ve done things and I want to help you’ speakers. These do a hard circuit of shows to an audience of businesspeople who feel there is a ROI to be had in getting high-level achievers fired up to the level that they will rush out and do wondrous things for their businesses.

Then there are the entertainers, the ex-something or others. These can be anything from ex-Presidents  to, well, anyone who has been on telly in any capacity but has probably had something negative said or done to them or by them.

These people set themselves up, or are set up by others, to appear at events for which people will pay good money to come along, sit down, probably have a bit of a feed, and listen to some anecdotal tosh about ‘my life in the White House/I’m a celebrity/Big Brother/Apprentice. It is this latter that causes me annoyance.

There are currently a number of ex-reality show candidates who have set themselves up as MotSpes. People who are ‘businessmen/women’ and strive to outdo one another in unpleasantness and tactics to win a competition.

They all know that there can be only one but the real advantage of being a contestant is the same as being in Big Brother. You can fail spectacularly and get well paid for telling people about it. And hopefully, we’ll forget the bad pitches and they’ll be consigned to television history.

My main issue, however, is that these people may take work away from quite legitimate business coaches and trainers who have spent their lives learning and honing their craft to a level where it is actually understandable to participants and is based on experience and research.

Fouled up a pitch? No problem. Spoken so quickly you can’t be understood? Fine. Been thoroughly unpleasant and blatantly told untruths on tv to get ahead? Come on in. Just the sort of inspiration we need.

There is a chance that this missive has come across as some petty minded envious rant against a bunch of non-deserving people who were in the right place at the right time. Not so. If you are out there looking for someone to come to your school, business, whatever and simply entertain then fine. If you actually want to get your monies worth then I’d suggest a little deeper research into your chosen candidate.

One will give you business insights and may actually motivate your target audience, the other will simply entertain.