The best motivational speakers magnetize an audience the moment they get on stage. Before the dawn of the internet, you usually had to wait around to hear a motivational speaker on the radio or pay money to attend an event at which the individual was presenting. Today, it’s easy to find motivational speakers online. Here are the ones that are making waves.
Brene Brown is a researcher and storyteller who became famous after giving a TEDx speech during which she revealed some of her research about worthiness, courage, and vulnerability. During that talk, she had a mini-breakdown.
As she spoke about the people who were most happy with themselves, she mentioned that those were the people who were courageous enough to be vulnerable. Yet she wasn’t living in a place where she was brave enough to be vulnerable.
Her work is incredibly impactful because it’s based on decades of data. Her talks touch on part of the human experience that many people are too afraid to expose. Talking about vulnerability is, well, vulnerable. There’s a lot of shame associated with people’s sense of worth and courage. Brown talks about that too.
People love her because she speaks about how hard it can be just to be yourself. However, she believes that authenticity is the key to a meaningful life. It’s a relief when you have permission to embrace everything that you’re made of. Brown helps give people the courage to do so.
Brown’s main principles include:
- Choosing courage over comfort
- Vulnerability is where you find love, belonging, hope, creativity, and authenticity
- Seek excellence instead of perfection
- Be yourself
Tony Robbins doesn’t refer to himself as a motivational speaker. According to his website, he is an author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur.
It doesn’t hurt that he is incredibly inspiring. As a self-described life and business strategist, he helps people tap into their true purpose. Once they find their meaning, people can use Robbins’ advice and strategies to achieve success in their careers or personal life.
Robbins began his own career as a promoter for motivational speaker Jim Rohn. He soon moved on to teach Neurolinguistic Programming and Ericksonian Hypnosis.
From there, he developed a series of Personal Power audiotapes, which he sold via an infomercial in the late 1980s. He has gone on to lead hundreds of seminars and present at live events across the globe.
Robbins has also privately coached and consulted some of the most powerful and influential people in the world, including Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, and Peter Guber. Marc Benioff says that listening to Robbins’ tapes and seminars spurred him to create Salesforce, which is now worth $6.6 million.
One of Robbins’ central messages is that fear is one of the only things that keep you from focusing on what you want. Maybe that’s how Robbins has gotten as far as he has. He gets an idea and goes for it, and he seems fearless.
Robbins comes across as one of the most confident people in the world. He highlights the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. If you always focus on the life that you’re living, how are you going to achieve the life that you desire?
But he doesn’t neglect the here and now. Robbins is all about optimizing himself through meditation, exercise, and unique rituals, like plunging himself in icy water after sitting in a sauna or jumping up and down on a trampoline before speaking engagements.
Robbins’ main principles include:
- Adding value to the world
- Looking for patterns that can serve as models for your motivation, behavior, and success
- Owning your expertise
- Putting quality time into emotional, spiritual, mental and physical preparation
He offers live events, training programs, private coaching, exclusive retreats, and supplements to help you master every area of your life.
In addition to mentoring Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn was one of the most notable motivational speakers. Although he started his career working as a human resources manager at Sears, he discovered his passion after attending a lecture by John Earl Shoaff. Rohn joined Shoaff’s direct-selling company, AbundaVita, but soon left to join Nutri-Bio, a similar organization. He eventually became Nutri-Bio’s vice president.
After that company went out of business, Rohn began speaking about his story. His talks are all about personal development and ambition.
Rohn’s main principles include:
- Using your mind to create and act on your own conclusions
- Designing your life plan because no one else will establish a meaningful one for you
- Practice a few disciplines every day
- You can create your happiness
Sylvia Baffour calls her brand Leaping Beyond Barriers. She is a speaker, trainer and worship facilitator who specializes in the following fields:
- Professional development
- Emotional intelligence
She has traveled extensively since she was a child, living in more than seven countries. She is a certified life coach and works with individuals, organizations, and groups to improve their performance.
Baffour makes it seem easy to transcend barriers and improve personal and professional growth. She uses practical strategies and methods to transform people’s habits and behaviors.
She also talks about overcoming fear, telling stories about how she cheated death. She has had two near-death experiences. Once, an orangutan attacked her. Another time, she barely survived a car crash.
These experiences made her wonder if she was living her life above the covers. She speaks of a life in which you can live courageously and openly, face your fears and fully express yourself. Over time, she felt as though fear limited her ability to live. She stayed in unhealthy relationships and careers because she was afraid that no one would appreciate her worth.
When her father died, however, Baffour recognized how fleeting life could be. She made it her mission to live her life to the fullest. Now, she teaches people how to stop spending their lives chasing achievement and move their lives in a meaningful direction. You can watch one of her inspiring speeches here.
Baffour’s main principles include:
- Breaking through barriers to achieve peak performance
- Fearlessness is always within you
- You can’t live with full expression unless you fight through fear
Zig Ziglar’s mission was to provide seminars that enhanced the image of salespeople in the U.S. He ended up being one of the best motivational speakers of all time.
His motto was, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” According to his website, Ziglar’s knowledge and inspiration motivated more than 250 million people over the years. He wrote 33 books and believed that everyone could reach their full potential.
Ziglar talked a lot about closing sales. But all of his advice could be translated for use in almost any situation.
He highlighted the importance of having a good attitude. Ziglar believed in the power of positive thinking. He taught that success would come to you if you formed personal connections, used empathy and focused on serving other people’s needs.
Some of his advice is old-fashioned, and it’s not all based on research, as Brene Brown’s tips are. However, Ziglar relies on some steadfast human needs, including trust, connection, and communication.
Ziglar’s main principles include:
- Success is measured by what you’re capable of doing, not comparing your accomplishments to those of others
- Self-motivation isn’t an endpoint; it’s a practice that you need to maintain
- Surround yourself with positive, inspirational people and things
- You have to combine emotion with logic to be persuasive
- Believe in yourself and anything that you try to sell.
Marianne Williamson is a celebrated expert on metaphysics and spirituality. She is also a lecturer, activist, and author.
Her story has taken her from a struggling cabaret singer to a presidential candidate. After she dropped out of college in 1973, Williamson became inspired by the book, “A Course in Miracles.” Her first manuscript, written in 1992, reflected on the principles from that inspirational book.
But the inspiration that she transfers to the public has a lot to do with the heart. Williamson believes that love is a universal force that can renew the world. She teaches that people limit themselves by neglecting to reveal their true selves. She believes that individuals and society can be transformed when people find the light within them.
Williamson considers herself a healer and has served as a spiritual guide for many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey.
In 2019, she announced that she would be running for President, stating that “Emotional and psychological dynamics within the average citizen that have led to the erosion of our political system. To have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener.” Williamson has also participated in a number of non-profit activities and founded the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living, Project Angel Food and the Peace Alliance.
Williamson’s main principles include:
When you go to Marie Forleo’s website, you’re greeted with the message, “The world needs that special gift that only you have.” Forleo is a cheerleader for any person who wants to go after what they want.
One of the reasons that she is so motivational is that she is a steadfast optimist. She believes that as long as you back up your dreams with meaningful action, you can achieve your desires.
Forleo is all about breaking the rules. She has worked at the New York Stock Exchange, Conde Nast Publishing and MTV. Now, she runs a digital empire that caters to multi-passionate entrepreneurs (a title that she coined herself).
Like most other motivational speakers, Forleo believes that you have the power to change your life. When you bring all of yourself to the table, you flourish. That’s an inspiring message for entrepreneurs and people who are just trying to make their day-to-day lives meaningful.
You can catch her on her award-winning show, MarieTV. Her episodes cover topics such as:
- How to be ambitious without overwhelm
- How to make the right decision every time
- How to follow all of your passions without losing your focus
- Why big dreams aren’t always better
Forleo’s main principles include:
- Taking responsibility for your life
- Following your passions even if you have several
- Loving who you are
- Starting a business that’s ideal for you
Bear Grylls is a survival expert turned motivational speaker. He is perhaps best known for his TV show “Man vs. Wild.” The program drew an audience of 1.2 billion global viewers and showed Grylls demonstrating survival techniques and accomplishing death-defying stunts.
During his time as a British Special Forces operative and thrill-seeker, Grylls has overcome his fair share of obstacles. He broke his back in three locations in a parachuting accident. He crossed the Atlantic in a rubber boat. But he says that his biggest challenge is getting through a cocktail party.
Grylls’ harrowing experiences put normal people’s obstacles into perspective. But he’s not here to minimize anyone’s problems. His goal is to help people harness their grit, teamwork and leadership skills.
The wisdom that he has gained from surviving in harsh environments can be translated to typical life. Grylls explains that every human has the capacity to live vibrantly, dare to dream and enjoy themselves on their journey.
Whether or not you’re a fan of survivalist tales, you’ll be compelled by Grylls’ gripping stories. His winning attitude comes through when he addresses the public. He hopes to empower people to access their strengths so that they can help and inspire others along the way.
During his keynote speeches, Grylls talks about the tough experiences that he’s had and guides listeners toward overcoming adversity by finding their own adventures.
Grylls’ main principles include:
- Adventure can help you develop a winning attitude
- Go the extra mile
- Be unafraid to fail, and never give up
- Find common strengths with others to rise up
Nick Vujicic has said, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” Vujicic was born with a rare condition. He doesn’t have fully formed limbs.
He was bullied throughout his childhood, and he struggled with loneliness and depression. His faith in God carried him through.
When he was 19, he had his first speaking engagement. He gave inspiration to a prayer group at church. His inspirational speeches involve stories about his faith. He is evangelical about his born-again Christianity.
He travels around the world, filling stadiums and auditoriums with people of all ages. He has spoken in 69 countries so far. Vujicic has addressed young children to businesspeople. He also speaks to church congregations regularly.
Even though he doesn’t have limbs, Vujicic has achieved more than many people do during their lives. He has written several books, including “Life Without Limits: How to Live a Ridiculously Good Life.” He is also a musician who is working on his first album, “Brighter World.”
He is also the president and CEO of the non-profit organization that he founded, Life Without Limbs. The international ministry’s mission is to spread the Gospel. He believes that God is using him to help spread His word.
Vujicic’s main principles include:
- No matter what you’re circumstances are, you can overcome them
- The power of faith makes you unstoppable
Dave Ramsey must be successful because it seems as though everyone who listens to him or takes his course jumps on the bandwagon toward financial freedom. He offers financial coaching, free resources and speaking engagements to help anyone conquer their debt.
One of the reasons that he’s so inspirational is that he believes that anyone can become debt-free by using his gradual process that involves taking baby steps toward your bigger goals. Whether you simply want to start budgeting, are saving for a down payment or want to invest for your retirement, you can tune into Ramsey’s easy-to-follow advice to turn your financial situation around.
Dave Ramsey has turned his budgeting solutions into an empire. He has the third-largest nationally syndicated talk radio show and makes more than 125 million in annual revenue.
If you can’t catch him speaking in person, you can watch or listen to the Dave Ramsey Show, where he talks about topics like how it feels to pay off debt, how to get out of a car lease and how to reset your household culture.
Ramsey is inspirational because he crawled out of debt more than 25 years ago. He has taken what he has learned and made it digestible for anyone. It’s not always easy, but it’s always possible to get out of debt. You just have to start somewhere.
He understands that it’s difficult to keep your motivation up when it comes to budgeting. Temptations are everywhere, and most people sail through life without worrying about their spending. His methods allow you to progress and celebrate your wins along the way so that you don’t get discouraged.
Ramsey’s main principles include:
- Making over your financial situation to live a better life
- Using baby steps to organize your path toward financial freedom
Some motivational speakers don’t have to command a live audience to be influential. Rachel Hollis has targeted most of her audience via her popular books, “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing.” These books are full of motivational advice to empower women.
Even though she has delivered much of her advice in writing, she says on her website that she digs personal growth conferences. She loves going to them as much as she enjoys presenting at them.
She’s a bubbly, positive woman whose energy and style draws people in. In her books, she makes it sound as though she’s speaking in confidence. It’s just between you and her. She’s relatable, and she tells it like it is.
That formula makes for an engaging motivational speaker. Even though the advice that she gives isn’t mind-blowing, she delivers it in a way that may finally fall on receptive ears.
Hollis’ main principles include:
- Unlocking your potential
- Starting to take achievable steps today instead of waiting until the right moment
- Dealing with rejection and criticism
- Gaining confidence
When she was 41, Mel Robbins was struggling. She was out of a job and struggling with confidence, her marriage, and excuses. She was giving herself plenty of reasons to stay exactly where she was instead of taking action and moving forward.
One day, she decided to change that habit. Instead of lying in bed with anxiety when her alarm went off, she counted backward from the number 5. Then she jumped out of bed.
She has transformed this concept into the “5-second rule.” Now, she’s teaching the rule to audiences all over the world. The theory is simple: when you get an idea, act on it within 5 seconds or your brain will find reasons why you shouldn’t do it.
In her motivational TEDx talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” Robbins explains that you’re never going to feel like changing your life even when you know how significant the transformation can be. She discusses the importance of using “activation energy” to propel you forward so that you don’t put on the emergency brake and slip back into your comfort zone.
Anyone who has ever felt stuck or doubted themselves can benefit from listening to her. More than 11 million viewers have watched the TEDx speech on YouTube. She has become the most booked female motivational speaker across the globe.
Robbins’ main principles include:
- Mastering the 5 Second Rule
- Creating instant behavior change by understanding habits
- Improving performance by practicing higher brain function
- Reaching your full potential through inspiration
Paula Stone Williams
Reverend Paula Stone Williams came out as a transgender woman in 2012. Now, she speaks out about gender equity and has been featured at hundreds of events. She also continues to preach at churches.
When she came out, she didn’t think that she would ever preach again. She feared being shunned by the evangelical and mainstream Christian community. Today, she reports on her blog that she is filled with gratitude for the abundance of support that she surrounds herself with.
In her TEDxMileHigh talk, “I’ve Lived as a Man and a Woman—Here’s What I Learned,” Williams talks about how she lost all of her jobs when she came out as transgender. She speaks about her experiences living life on both sides.
She is the founder of Road Less Traveled Pathways, a non-profit organization that provides counseling and coaching services. She speaks about how people will never understand what those of the opposite sex are going through. She touches on the ease of her experience as a white male compared to her life as a transgender woman.
Williams talks about how essential it is to be able to express yourself fully. She talks about empowering women and making sure that they know that they’re far more capable and powerful than they probably think.
Williams’ main principles include:
- Honoring the uniqueness of all human beings
- The sacred call to authenticity
- Recognizing where you hold privilege
What Makes These Motivational Speakers the Best?
Motivational speakers don’t just read well from a teleprompter or have the skills to memorize speeches. They have rich stories that spark emotion. These stories usually involve the willingness to rise above a challenge.
Moreover, motivational speakers don’t just think about what they want to say. They don’t serve their own aims; they consider the audience’s problems. Then, they deliver their speech with empathy and freshness.
The best motivational speakers don’t follow the same rules as everyone else. They aren’t robots; they use their mannerisms and skills to their advantage. They are unique and spontaneous. In fact, one of the reasons that these people are so inspirational is that they don’t follow the crowd. They’re also energetic and captivating.
A lot of this has to do with their delivery. Great motivational speakers exude confidence. They’re also articulate and eloquent. You can’t influence others if they don’t understand you. Still, you don’t have to have a perfect speaking voice to be a great motivational speaker.
One of the most important elements of motivational speaking is authenticity. These speakers don’t pretend to be anyone else. They’re not afraid to be genuine even if they might offend somebody or say something inappropriate.
Finally, they believe in themselves. To be an authority, you don’t have to convince people that your truth is better than their truth. You just have to deliver your story, advice, and experience with conviction and emotion. If you feel like you’re faltering, be transparent about it. Showing that you’re human underneath all of your self-esteem is what will capture the hearts of your audience.
People want to know that they, too, can achieve the motivation that you speak of. When your story elicits the spark of potential in your audience, you know that you’ve inspired them.