Best Motivational Speakers: 9 Reasons for Their Popularity
In the choppy waters of the modern workplace, conferences offer brief periods of respite. This is the ideal time for regrouping, re-energizing and considering a motivational speaker.
Top motivational speakers deliver a quick snapshot into the ideal attitudes, behaviors and mindsets for a high-performing organization. Their invigorating one-hour keynote talks inevitably ignite a series of teachable moments.
1. Rejuvenate Employee Morale
2. Share Best Practices
3. Inject Much-Needed Humor
4. Demolish Toxic Outlooks
5. Tell Inspirational Stories
6. Stimulate a Thirst for Learning
7. Promote Unequalled Teamwork
8. Boost Action Mindsets
9. Trigger Creative Lightbulbs
1. Rejuvenating Employee Morale is a Specialty of the Best Motivational Speakers
Quite positively the number one reason for inviting top motivational speakers to a company’s event is the morale of the staff. Not that this implies organizational dejection – in most cases morale is actually good, but the intention is to get it soaring.
At corporate events, annual conferences and award ceremonies, an invited motivational speaker would typically deliver the keynote address. It provides an energetic spark to keep the audience spellbound and can significantly impact the levels of inspiration.
Building High-Morale Organizations
Building trust, transparent communication and getting employees to articulate how they really feel are all building blocks towards great morale. Corporate research and engagement surveys confirm how crucial positive workplaces are to employees.
Winning attitudes and performance behaviors are more desired than ever in the marketplace. Employees invest the most significant time of their lives at work, and feeling valued contributes towards their wellness.
John Schaefer’s caution regarding employee morale is very applicable though: “When employees feel that you are using recognition to ‘get more out of them’ rather than to show that you value them personally, they begin to emotionally disengage and morale suffers.” 
Often, leaders don’t realize how easy it is for discouragement to spread like the flu within a company.
By being aware is already half the battle won. Build a fulfilling workplace and deliver a knock-out to potential pessimism by keeping tabs on the following:
- Business results should not be driven at the expense of staff wellness.
- Ensure that home-work balance is being fulfilled as a core organizational value.
- Everyone knows who are the bad bosses. Act on it.
- Earn trust through employee climate surveys that lead to positive change.
- Remember that high staff morale consistently propels high performance.
2. Sharing Best Practices
The concept of “best practices” are every so often conveyed by top motivational speakers in simplified terms. Best practices are successful activities that are being put into practice in an organization.
It is mostly modelled and modified either on what industry recommends or on what’s happening in other companies. Here are two inventive examples, especially applicable on bigger companies: Putting flexi-time into effect for staff or starting a kindergarten on the business premises to assist working mothers.
Best practices are exemplary ways of achieving results through specific activity. It can be widely recognized strategies or even little-known tactics to be learnt and administered in one’s own territory. These recognized procedures or processes deliver better-quality outcomes and hence are embraced increasingly. It’s about measurable yardsticks for business excellence.
Using “Best Practices” as a Success Secret
A best practice can easily be hidden in plain sight inside small start-ups or innovative non-profit entities.
The secret is to be always on the look-out for stories of achievement and how it can be adapted and repeated within one’s own organization or team.
In a more technical sense, it comprises of quality standards which are measured against fact-based criteria.
Without going into the nuts and bolts, here are some best practices as it relates to employee motivation:
- Designing incentive-based initiatives.
- Recognizing staff members publicly.
- Creating a workplace where employees want to be.
- Investing in a learning culture and keeping people stimulated and challenged.
- Maintaining career plans and/or succession planning.
- Facilitating a climate of conversation and feedback.
3. Injecting Much-Needed Humor by Top Motivational Speakers
Illuminating achievement concepts are the forte of the best motivational speakers and often presented and combined with humor. Audiences roaring with laughter never fails to be impactful.
“Laughter is the best medicine” is probably one of the most boring clichés of all time. Its application remains powerful though. So here is the “logic” in some companies. Humor and light-heartedness distract from the business at hand and therefore no need to have it around. This cannot be further from the truth.
In fact, it is one of the ingredients of a favorable environment. The advocates for seriousness-only will be surprised to learn that laughter brings people together as a common denominator.
Discussing humor at work, Jenna Goudreau confirms: “Research shows that successful humor boosts both personal productivity and group effectiveness.” 
Timely humor is not something to be frowned upon, but a morale-booster of note. A self-deprecating chuckle does wonders for your own credibility. If your mouth has difficulty to bend into the shape of a smile, it’s time to get hold of some comedies.
One can never go wrong with “clean” humor. Don’t mess up the lively sway of humor by degrading spirituality, joking about the appearance of others, swearing like a sailor, demeaning ethnicity and other sensitivities.
Use it as a booster, not a breaker. As joking around, appeals to our common humanity, be well-informed on how these notions differ between cultures and countries. Sensitivity should be the rudder of humor.
4. Demolishing Toxic Outlooks is a Forte of the Best Motivational Speakers
In some shape or form, the topic of negativity will feature into the speeches of top motivational speakers. The goal is to challenge dodgy mindsets, lazy comfort zones and loser attitudes.
And usually, at this time, the face of a trouble-making colleague will pop up in your mind. “Every business seems to have at least one negative employee” says Tim Parker in an article about managing a negative staff member. He continues with a really funny sentence: “The highlight of his day is the lunch break, during which he recounts and analyses all of the burdens you’ve put on him.” 
In this case, we are referring to someone that can be called a negativist. The bad behavior is not once off. It’s persistent and non-stop over a long period of time and all efforts have been done by the leaders or group to resolve it.
More verbs which characterize these toxic attitudes would be “gossiping”; “undercutting”; “whining” and “exaggerating”. As Benjamin Franklin said: “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”
Negativity Spreads Like a Disease
Often it is difficult to confront negativity as it simmers beneath the surface. Like a poisonous stream, it channels the focus away from quality towards mediocrity. Failure to act against it, will result in the stream, becoming a river with waterfalls of waste.
Many teams battle with an atmosphere of toxicity. Realigning detrimental attitudes with remedial interventions are commendable, but it doesn’t always work out. When it gets to how to handle a negative employee, there are libraries full of journals, articles, HR policies, guidelines etc.
Although procedures are often followed by the book, it’s the end result that matters. Let’s say all the restorative criteria have been fulfilled and the individual has still not responded, then the next step would be telling.
Some managers conveniently and shamelessly transfer trouble-makers to other departments, just to get rid of the problem. But it is only passing the headache on, which is the epiphany of bad leadership. They must show backbone and make tough calls.
It doesn’t mean that all of us have to be happy all of the time, but that is not what is at stake here. The occasional “bad hair day” is in order, but consistent bad behavior and attitudes are not.
5. The Best Motivational Speakers Telling Inspirational Stories
An inspirational story is not only the muscle behind a great presentation but also a minded communication strength of top motivational speakers. It keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, especially those who might be dispirited.
Stories can be conveyed from a thousand different angles like sharing real-life experiences, paraphrasing metaphors, unpacking business practices that went right or wrong, etc. The list is never-ending and the upshot is inspiring. Tales of old is another case in point.
Gripping stories are carriers of emotion, rational thought, common sense and learning. The package gets carefully unwrapped to reveal at the end that profound lesson, heart-warming touch or wow experience.
Storytelling is very significantly not limited to the speech of a motivational speaker at events and conferences. There is a great demand for it at work.
The Atomic Power of Stories in the Workplace
Master this skill and your reputation will grow favorably – guaranteed. The level of engagement with colleagues, direct reports or others in general will be sky-high.
Referring to a fascinating study, Dianna Booher emphasizes the incredible influence of storytelling to be “persuasive to experienced lawyers and judges because they evoke emotional responses that make legal claims of the parties more credible and elicit empathy in their judicial thinking.” 
Think for a moment about why everyone loves movies. It is because they are stories. At work, it can and should be used to paint the desired organizational state and highlighting core values. Intertwined with a healthy blend between intensity, rationale and emotion, something like a parable can lead to magnificent insight.
When you tell your own stories, remember the force of self-deprecating humor and that no one can be the hero at all times. Refine the conclusion, ponder the application and practice the punchline. Provide a solution.
If you are not familiar with Ted Talks, do go and check it out. That will prove the point. And lastly, a story must have a happy ending, but that is just a personal opinion.
6. Stimulating a Thirst for Learning Through the Best Motivational Speakers
A one-hour keynote address to employees at an event is more than enough for top motivational speakers to stimulate a yearning for learning. This is discernibly not a once off moment at a conference, but cranking up the thirst, undeniably can be.
The most admired corporations on earth depend on continuous learning for favorable results. Work surroundings that stagnate, impede new knowledge. Establishing a “learning organization” is non-negotiable if the goal is constant accomplishment.
Sayings like “been there done that” has no place, as no one is too young or old to learn or beyond getting egg on the face.
Research after research and survey after survey show that in general, employees rate learning opportunities higher than salary. Ignore this and the retention of a talented workforce will be an ever-present challenge.
Ensure that knowledge opportunities, new information and the latest technology are actively available within the company or team. If not, budget, prioritize and arrange for more resources, if possible. One illustration can be the use of innovative mobile apps.
Whether free ones or purposefully designed, it can be a game-changer. Unceasing learning turns into increased productivity and better results.
What About Investing in Employees and Then They Leave?
“Training” is very much organizationally driven, while “learning” puts the onus on the employee to embrace a life-long thirst for self-improvement. Even putting aside what can be considered as semantics or disagreeing definitions, the following fact remains perfectly true.
Self-directed learning and formal training are vital and complement each other perfectly.
Britt Andreatta summarizes learning organizations accurately as those “that create transformative learning cultures not only succeed but thrive. They know that learning is as natural and biologically driven as breathing—and they cultivate people’s potential through learning opportunities.” 
Cultivating an atmosphere of learning is a foremost leadership responsibility. The presence of a formal coaching system run by managers is proof that it is happening.
Leadership and institutional wisdom are very clear in the following two-sentence conversation. It was posted by Peter Baeklund and recently making the rounds on Linked-In:
The Chief Financial Officer: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?
CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
Embracing Learning as an Organization
The flow process starts with pursuing knowledge, then sharing it with others and in due course, putting it into practice. How many workplaces have personal development plans for their workforces? One institution took it one simple, but profound way further.
It is called a PDAP – A personal development ACTION Plan.
The prominence is not only on adopting learning, but also applying the resulting knowledge. Comprehension should lead to movement. Some make use of a central Learning Management System (LMS).
Simply speaking, it tracks learning across the group, where individual employees are on the pathway and of course supplying an accessible repository (a library of learning resources).
Adults marvel at the ability of children to master programs on a computer or mobile phone. Conceivably the reason for their skills is more straight-forward than one would think.
They don’t fear failure as much as grown-ups. Neither have they developed the sophisticated self-defense mechanisms of adults which ultimately hamper learning.
Something that gets overlooked, is that a learning milieu should cater for people to make mistakes. The resulting individual growth is part of the upwards trajectory.
7. Promoting Unequalled Teamwork
The best motivational speakers are often invited with the exclusive purpose of team building and to underline that “We’re in this together.” Whether this is the formal objective or not, teamwork is purposefully influenced by an inspirational keynote address. Not a single motivational speech or story will ever be without the presence of some or other collaboration between people. Teamwork is always an inclusive thread, even if subtle.
The workplace is never restricted to the domain of one individual.
There is Nothing Mysterious About a Great Team
From time to time, friction will occur but is overcome with face-to-face communication or in the case of a virtual team, eye to eye via technology. Simultaneously, a no-appetite for petty politics and other counter-productive dynamics should be cultivated.
In building an impressive team, the “overarching theme” according to Adam Bryant is that “most problems on teams can be solved by colleagues being up front with each other, and having respectful, frank conversations face-to-face.” 
No Team Can Go to the Top Without a Great Leader
Over a reasonable period of time, a team is a reflection of its leader. This principle has a legion of implications, one being that bad bosses have a destructive effect on a group.
It seems that companies are slow to act on this glaring elephant in the room.
There is no need to drain the last little drop of energy from staff without any form of refuelling. Don’t underestimate the benefits of occasional teambuilding which might include a reduced pace. It’s worth putting some thought into it beforehand.
Not to minimize the positive effect that non-work-related fun can have on a team, it does not stop there. Driving go-karts together every 3 months have its limits. Team building involves much more than just hanging out together. Surely it should reflect a more real-world intervention with related substance.
Finally, a quick word on virtual teams which deserves an article on its own. Fostering a sense of togetherness means that much more creative ways have to be examined than in the case of a team, seeing one another every day.
Good relationships still remain the golden key and this can be nurtured in innovative ways through the very same medium that makes virtual teams possible, which is technology.
Platforms like Skype have endless possibilities in this regard.
Intelligence and Skills are not a Guarantee for Exceptional Teamwork
- A dynamic leader
- Productive working relationships
- Well-defined and aligned objectives
- Shared values and respect
- Candid communication
- Group ownership and autonomy
- Clear roles
- Joint problem-solving
8. The Boosting of Action Mindsets by Top Motivational Speakers
There is one quote that perfectly describes the message that the best motivational speakers want to get across to their audiences. It’s indeed the words of the late American businessman Harold “Hal” Geneen: “It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises – but only performance is reality.” It’s about having a shared “getting it done” conscience.
Implementation Happens When Vision Statements are Turned into Practice
The corporate world every so often suffers from a deficiency of Vitamin A – Application. Cut through the noise pollution and advance a craving for doing.
Any business that is serious about achieving results, should make the article “The Smart-Talk Trap” compulsory reading for all its employees. “Business-people love to talk, which is fine when it leads to action” say Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, but when it “becomes a substitute for getting things done, shareholders, customers, and employees pay a price … the willingness to let talk substitute for action.” 
A mentality of doing continuously generates more momentum. It produces laser-like energy that is mustered across a workforce. If speed is not part of the formula though, it will cancel out some of the gains. Be slow and opportunities will be missed. There is not something like Star-Trek “warp speed”, but fast steps are still one of the ever-present hallmarks of an accomplished team.
The “now” factor, a sense of urgency and getting priorities done will always feature in some or other fashion in a speech or management talk by top motivational speakers. “Speed to the market” has become a non-negotiable factor in an ever-changing business environment.
High-level strategies require brainpower, but the idea is to work through the complexity and to arrive at simplicity of doing. If something is too complicated to understand, it cannot be implemented. Uncomplicatedness is king.
Analysis Paralysis is a Sworn Enemy of Execution
The 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) is a sensible tool for prioritization – which 20% of the tasks will produce 80% of the results? Once the answer is determined, certain points of execution will enjoy precedence and urgency over others.
A leader is responsible for motivating the team, removing stumbling blocks and making sure that objectives are carried out. The “doers” should be showcased.
Celebrate the implementers in a group as opposed to all those with golden tongues who get nothing done.
Watch out to not unintentionally create a “Talker of the Year” award without even knowing it.
9. The Triggering of Creative Lightbulbs by the Best Motivational Speakers
After reading this heading, you should be able to see a little yellow lightbulb flickering above your head.
When it’s conference time, top motivational speakers are great to spark the imagination again – those typical lightbulb “aha” moments. The breathing space offered by events, are best to generate new insights and to get the creative juices flowing again.
Someone said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.” Creativity transforms “how things stand now” into a conveyor-belt of inventive solutions to roll out.
Imaginativeness is often subdued in the marketplace because some accuse it to be “airy-fairy”. That is nonsense. Maybe Stanislaw Jerzy Lec words illustrate the point: “Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man, but they don’t bite everybody.” People must be taught and given the opportunity to be bitten by creativity.
Moving employees towards out-of-the-box approaches is the responsibility of managers. They should also create a conducive atmosphere for inventiveness.
Erik Wahl hits the workplace creativity nail right on the head: “… once you learn to embrace the fear of failure and the joy of stepping out of your tried-and-true methods, you’ll find that a whole avenue of creative ideas and solutions will become open to you.” 
Due to constant pressure, employees are bent out of shape at times. The vibrancy is then gone and the “that will never work” tendency has taken over. Creativity will now be in short supply and must be mined like gold.
Fortunately, these miners are already present on the team, given the opportunity.
Innovative people don’t resist problems but lean into it to gain more insight.
It’s actually providing the right conditions for innovation to flourish. Creative thinking and problem solving go hand in hand.
Stop Cold-Shouldering Creative Colleagues on the Team
Meetings are the dread of most people because they are boring and frankly useless at times.
Why not spice things up by allocating a creativity slot? Team members can, for example, troubleshoot issues for resourceful solutions. This produces mammoth engagement. The benefits are twofold.
Immediately meetings are more interesting and the team’s originality brings innovation to the table. It’s like Kramer’s coffee table book about coffee tables in the TV comedy series Seinfeld.
Managers should be less critical and more tolerant of unusual thinking from team members. “A closed mind is like a closed book” states a Chinese Proverb. It is “just a block of wood.” Reward people for churning out creative results.
The best motivational speakers can add great value to a corporate event, but the operation doesn’t start there. Before getting in touch with them, be prudent about your event’s purpose and then reach out to your potential speakers.
- The Root Causes of Low Employee Morale / auth. Schaefer John. – [s.l.] : AMAnet.org, Accessed 6 August 2018.
- Best Practices / auth. Investopedia. – [s.l.] : Investopedia.com, Accessed 6 August 2018.
- Are Funny People More Successful in Business? / auth. Goudreau Jenna. – [s.l.] : Forbes.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.
- How to Manage a Negative Employee / auth. Parker Tim. – [s.l.] : Quickbooks.intuit.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.
- 7 Tips for Great Storytelling as A Leader / auth. Booher Dianna. – [s.l.] : Fastcompany.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.
- 6 Steps to Creating a Learning Culture – and Why You Should / auth. Andreatta Britt. – [s.l.] : Learning.linkedin.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.
- How to Build a Successful Team / auth. Bryant Adam. – [s.l.] : Nytimes.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.
- The Smart-Talk Trap [Journal] / auth. Jeffrey Pfeffer & Robert I. Sutton // Harvard Business Review. – Boston : Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), 1990. – May – June 1999 Issue.
9. The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace / auth. Wahl Erik. – [s.l.] : Allbusiness.com, Accessed 7 August 2018.