Motivational Inspirational speaker

The term “motivational speaker” may have developed a bad rap. So many motivational speakers who just fire up the audience but don’t really give them any solid advice for what they need to do once they leave. But a good motivational speaker will incorporate high energy motivation with user-friendly tips to help their audience improve their lives in some way. They should also weave in stories of people who have achieved great things. Give the audience the hope that they could also achieve greatness if they apply themselves. They should leave the audience with a call to action.

Inspirational speaker

An inspirational speaker, on the other hand, delivers a real and inspiring message of overcoming obstacles. Though the two overlap, an inspirational speaker is usually telling their own story of overcoming hardship more than just using generic stories. An inspirational speaker should instill a message of hope that they can succeed against all odds, no matter how rough life gets. They may or may not leave the audience with a call to action, but do leave them inspired.

Tony Robbins

An example of a motivational speaker is Tony Robbins. Not only does he energize the audience, but he gives them step by step advice on how to accomplish goals. He uses the methods of neuro linguistic programming to help people change their lives and gives them plenty of takeaways to fulfill that change.

Bob Wieland

An example of an inspirational speaker is Bob Wieland. Bob lost both legs in Vietnam saving a fellow soldier. Despite that, he came home determined not to let it slow him down, and it hasn’t. Bob has accomplished more than most able-bodied people ever will. From 1982-1986 he walked across America on his hands and was the only person to complete the Ironman Triathlon without a wheelchair. He motivates his audience, but also inspires them with his own stories of hope and courage. If Bob doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know who would.

How do you define the difference between a motivational speaker and inspirational speaker?


17 Responses to “Are You a Motivational Speaker or an Inspirational Speaker?”

  1. Richard Aubé says:

    Thanks Julie for this nice refresher about our common responsibility as a keynote speaker.

    It’s important to always keep in mind that 93 % of the retain information is emotive impact. That`s why a message should be deliver by the hart rather than the head… :0)

  2. Steve Dorsey AKA "Stand with Steve" says:

    Thanks for posting this and I couldn’t agree with you more about the motivational speakers hyping you up then sending you off with nothing.
    The reason I ended up on Oprah’s life Class and then meeting Tony Robbins was simply because I seen an interview Oprah did at Tony’s UPW event and he stated “I hate when people call me a motivational speaker because that crap does not work and when I am a Life Coach and I like to figure out a persons WHY” or something along those lines but I stated to myself as soon as I heard him say that I wanted to work with him next, the reason i said next is because for the last ten years I was trying everything out there I could get to for the money and time I had. Since then everyone tells me I should be a speaker. I would love too and I am working on it but it seems tougher then I realize because with everything in life it takes money to learn! or does it? Any ways Thanks for today’s message! Steve Dorsey

  3. Julie Austin

    Julie Austin says:

    Steve, can we still see that episode? This is what happens when you really do your homework!

  4. Lo Anne Mayer says:

    Wonderful topic and inspired ideas. Thank you Julie!

  5. Lo Anne Mayer says:

    Your topic is inspired and well spoken. I haven’t found that motivational speakers are getting a bad wrap if offered sincerely. People are thirsting for inspiration and motivation. This is a great discussion!

  6. Wilson Smalls says:

    Thanks for the distinctions between the motivational and inspirational speaker. I prefer inspiring persons, because I often people are already motivated. It is a matter of helping them redirect their motivations when they are properly serving them.

  7. Barry Minnick says:

    Whenever public speaking, I strive to use a little of both in presentations — Sometimes people need to be motivated, while other times they need some inspiration.
    Motivation helps to inspire people, and inspiration helps to motivate people!

  8. Shah Alam says:

    Great article Julie. I would put myself in both categories. Thanks for sharing

  9. Trevor Pickens says:

    I think someone who is ready to be motivated is usually already inspired to change something about their self. When I think of the need to have inspiration I think of a much deeper need than the need to be motivated. I need to be inspired to stop thinking I don’t look as good as the next person, or I need to pull myself up out of this depression. These are things people who need inspiration would say. To accomplish these things one would need motivation. Sometimes it comes easy, other times it does not. Tony Robins, and motivation tacticians, help people to find out why they are doing what they are doing or why they aren’t doing what they aren’t doing. Simply by knowing the reasons an “ah-ha” moment can keep that persistent momentum that comes from being truly inspired.

    On the other side of that coin I think people who are inspired are usually ready to be motivated. When I read a book or see a documentary on ancient China and become inspired to read Confucius the motivation already exists; hardly no effort required. However, when someone is inspired to change the way they feel about their self, psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety, can be a barrier. Other things can be a barrier such as how they may perceive others perception of them and on and on, ad infinitum. Therefore to have the barriers pointed out by a motivational tactician is quite helpful for the purpose of being motivated.

  10. Ayman van Bregt - Digital Strategist says:

    Even better if motivation and inspiration go hand in hand… the inspirational part is about helping people finding their inspiration and then the speaker helps the in the motivational part to find their motivation…

  11. Judy Herman says:

    Thank you for that clarity, Julie. I’m encouraged and energized to learn more. I’m drawn to presenting inspirational speeches, and am touched when my story is a part of a bigger picture in someone else’s life.

  12. Jordan Gillette says:

    I’ll keep this short and sweet. I was once told that it doesn’t matter what you say to a person or group of people, but what matters is what they retain and apply to their daily lives. You could be the best speaker in the world but if the audience doesn’t learn of apply anything you’ve said, then what’s the point of speaking? We have to speak to teach and learn not to speak just to be heard.

    Great article, glad I was able to read it.

  13. Angie Van Greuning says:

    Hi Jullie!

    What a great article! Thank you so much for writing it! I too don’t just want to fire people up snd then they burn out in a week. And have no strategy of how to get through life. If i may, could I share some of my story with you and perhaps you or someone else in this discussion can assist me.

    I am definitely more an inspirational speaker. As I am still “living with” the pain 24/7. But I am also a singer and have released cd’s with some originals I wrote the words if and and many inspirational cover songs, like Hero, The Impossible Dream, Greatest Love of All,  Flying without Wings, There can be miracles when you blue very(Duet with Nandipha Solomon),  A Whole New World,(Duet with my uncle Myles Wakeham), Smile and many more(30 in total)….The title track Do What Matters,  is an original with the words written by me and the music by Sandi Nesset. You can follow this link on you tube to hear the song http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cAB4gUmA8Bw

    A very shortened version of my story. Had brain surgery to remove tumor 1997. Hospital left a Superbug called MRSA in my brain. Tried 13 more surgeries to get it out. Only made pain worse.  Pain is still to this day 24/7 caused by the pressure building up on the brain. The killer bug has caused many infections in my body and some major surgeries besides the brain one’s. I was supposed to die a few times. Had my own real estate company which i started at 21 years of age, but had to close it in 1999. My husband and I lost everything because of medical bills. Since then being doing this fulltime. Long story short, I am still LIVING and I am truly grateful to God! I want my life to count. There has been much restoration. But still a long way to go!

    So what I usually love to do, is speak and sing in between,  using backings from my cd’s.

    In my limited time with the precious people I have the privilege of speaking too, my desire is:
    –  to let them see that if I can do it, even from a place of still dealing with pain and weakness and financial loss etc, then whatever they going through, they too can make it!
    –  I try to give principles and strategies that have helped me to keep going, besides Divine Intervention, cause it’s not my time to pass on yet. But these principles I would so love them to apply to their lives, from that day forward, till the day they die, no matter what.
    –  and I think, most importantly,  I try level the playing fields, as it were, to tell them that pain is relative. That actually we are ALL dealing with something in our lives! Be it physical, financial,  mental,  emotional, relational etc. They are all different types of “pain!” And we have not gone through, or are still going through those experiences for nothing. That instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, let’s realize we have all “paid” a huge “price” for our stories!It’s “cost” us something, and I am not just speaking about money. And we have gained an authority in that area! So our stories have incredible value! And we can use our stories to help others transform their lives from victim to victor, despite the “pain!” And we can use it to touch other lives, and Do What Matters, one heart at a time….

    Julie, I have so much more to say, but I don’t want to abuse this space you giving me. And your assistance would really be great!

    The words I have had going through the years are motivational speaker/singer (don’t like that one), inspirational speaker/singer, and transformational speaker/singer.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. It means the world to me!

    Much love and blessings!
    Angie
    082 2587378
    Angievgreuning@gmail.com

  14. Cedric Threatt says:

    Great post. There’s nothing worse than telling people what they need to do without telling them how to do it. My desire is to aspire to inspire before I expire.

  15. G.L. McClendon says:

    I think I am both and I think it is just the way it comes out. I must be me. I go into the speech trying to make a certain point and many times it comes out in a motivational//inspirational way.

  16. Grace says:

    Thank you for your article. Audiences love to hear personal stories and how someone has overcome many obstacles to be where they are today. It is especially powerful when it is the speaker’s own story of triumph. It comes from the heart and is inspiring.

  17. Ashley Turns says:

    The company I work for is planning on hiring the best motivational speaker to help fire up us employees. So Iike how you suggest we find a motivational speaker that is both able to give us a lot of energy and will also give us tips on how we can improve our lives. Since I’m sure the company wants the best, I’ll be sure to let my boss know that the presenter they bring in should be able to show us actual steps to make our lives better along with making us more energized.


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