Motivational speeches are excellent tools to teach, inspire, and even just to tell others what to do. However, not many of us have the time to devote to writing long or complicated motivational speeches. The ability to write a short, sweet, and inspiring motivational speech is a very useful one, and it’s one that will come in handy throughout your life, especially in places of leadership.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to several useful motivational topics, the most important parts of a good motivational speech, and meaningful situations that motivational speeches can be used in.
Importance of Motivational Speeches
Motivational speeches are not something you have to give. Regardless of whether you’re a leader, someone else in a position of power, or otherwise, motivational speeches are completely optional. If you don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to give a motivational speech, it’s likely that nothing will change. However, you may be missing out on a powerful inspirational tool for employees, friends, or others.
If you’ve listened to a motivational speech yourself, you’ve probably felt the impact it can have on you firsthand. They can be the source of great change in your motivation, faith, and thoughts. As such, motivational speeches are particularly useful for bosses, directors, and other leaders. If they’re something that you can employ for yourself, they’re not an opportunity that you should neglect.
Why Do We Need Motivation?
Motivation plays a vital role in our everyday lives. However, motivation isn’t a given, either. We often need a bit of a push to keep us motivated, or we sometimes need a reminder of why we’re working so hard in the first place. When we lose our motivation, our performance in various areas is lost, too.
Furthermore, motivation is something that binds us together. Every single human being on Earth has felt motivated to do something at some point in their life, all the way back to the first humans who were motivated by the urge to hunt and mate. A well-crafted motivational speech is relatable, inspiring, and reminds us about these things that we fight for.
For the workplace especially, motivation is critical. If employees aren’t inspired to work at their full working capacity, the business isn’t making all the money it could be. Certain causes and non-profit organizations are also in the business of motivating people to turn their lives around.
Many aspects of our lives depend on motivation. Some examples of this are:
While keeping your employees, charges, friends, or peers motivated isn’t your responsibility, sometimes it can be in your best interest. We’ll explore that further in the rest of this article.
Crafting a Motivational Speech
A motivational speech requires several key components to be successful and effective. In the following sections, we’ll go over the most important steps involved in creating a successful, impactful, and succinct motivational speech.
Finding a Topic
Finding a topic for your motivational speech is the very first thing you should do. Your topic should relate to your problem at hand or the issue you’re looking to address, of course. For example, if you’re an employer who is hoping to inspire your employees to work more productively, that should be your topic and your inspiration. If you’re a guest speaker looking to encourage smokers to quit, that will be your source.
Picking a topic for your motivational speech isn’t particularly complicated. The purpose of your speech will be to address a problem, after all. However, how you proceed from there is much more difficult. The next step will be to explain your purpose to your audience. How you do this is primarily up to you. If you’re the straightforward type, it can be as simple as telling your audience that the purpose of your speech is to get them to do something.
However, if you desire to be more creative, you also have the option of being a bit more subtle. You can try different things like:
- Revealing your purpose at the end of your speech
- Hinting at but not revealing your purpose
- Forcing your audience to deduce your purpose from personal stories or other clues
- Letting your audience take their own wisdom or purpose from your speech or story
Telling a Story
A significant part of a motivational speech is the inclusion of a story. After all, the draw of a motivational speech is a story for the listeners to compare themselves to and take something away from. If a story isn’t included in your motivational speech somehow, it’s no different than a lecture.
Since we’re concerned with creating short and succinct motivational speeches here, you must be careful which stories you choose. If you don’t have a relevant story to share that’s short enough for your purposes, doing online research or asking friends for something is also a good idea. The story doesn’t necessarily have to be yours to be effective. You just have to make it relatable and relevant.
Barring length, which we’ve already addressed, not every story is effective for a motivational speech. The audience needs to be able to relate to the story, and the story itself needs to relate to the topic at hand, or else there’s no point in telling it. Additionally, if your story doesn’t further the point you’re trying to make, it will simply use up more of the time you have to speak.
If possible, using a personal story or a story of someone close to you is best, because this is the type of story that you will relate to the most. When you relate to the story emotionally, you will be a much more effective speaker, and the audience will recognize this and respond to it. If you don’t have an applicable personal story, find something online that moves you and inspires you on its own, then work that into your speech.
As a last resort, you can consider making up a fictional story to tell your audience, but this isn’t always an applicable strategy. For example, if an employer were to make up a story to tell their employees, it wouldn’t be particularly useful, applicable, or even helpful. In the worst case, the employees might take the story as a threat of what might happen to them if they didn’t show greater performance.
Whether you’re looking to scare your employees or not is up to you, but that’s not the purpose of a motivational speech. A motivational speech is meant to inspire people to take positive action, not scare them into behaving with veiled threats.
Finding Your Audience
Your audience is as much an integral part of your speech as the body of the speech itself is. If your audience cannot relate to your speech, it will have less of an effect or it won’t have one at all. In the same way, trying to relate too hard to your audience can be a death sentence, too. Age is a particularly difficult one to follow, but there are hundreds of more variables that presenters need to keep in mind, too, such as:
- Knowledgeability of the audience
- Cultural factors and cues
- Financial availability of the audience
- Geographical factors
The delivery method you use to relate to your audience plays a role, as well. Particularly infamous is when older speakers try too hard to engage and relate to younger audiences. Avoid the trap of using too much hip lingo and trying to act like a younger generation; the same can apply for older generations, too. As long as you represent yourself well and speak respectfully and engagingly with your audience, your delivery will go over well.
To relate to your audience, rather than falling prey to the traps we mentioned above, consider what your audience needs instead. What is your audience getting out of your speech? Is your audience a group of employees who were forced to come to this speech, or is it a group of students who voluntarily came to listen to you?
Your speech is as much about your audience as it is about you. What can you offer to the audience by speaking to them? What do you want to offer to the audience? Is your speech being given to solve an existing problem, or is its purpose to impart wisdom? These questions and more are essential things to ask yourself as you decide how to deliver your speech.
Tie Things Together
It’s very important to make sure the different parts of your speech all tie together when you’re crafting it. The greater points in your speech should relate to your story, your story should relate to your audience, and your final points should relate to everything mentioned above. This is doubly important since your motivational speech is meant to be short and sweet.
If your speech is all over the place or doesn’t tie together, your audience will not respect it and are unlikely to learn anything from it. Moreover, if your speech doesn’t make sense, your audience will likely zone out long before you’re done giving it.
Just as important as tying everything together is tying things together well. While overdoing things with your speech is a no-no, leaving it boring and clinical isn’t always appropriate, either. Your opening, ending, and overall tone should be compatible with your audience and the message you’re trying to convey.
The importance of the opening to a speech can never be underestimated. What kind of opening works best depends mostly upon your audience, however. Finding this perfect opening sequence is a crucial part of catching your audience’s attention early on and holding that attention for the duration of the speech.
Picking a great opening to your speech is an excellent way to make it memorable, engaging, and interesting to your audience. If you really want to make an impact on your audience, this is the way to do it. Several effective strategies for crafting an effective opening are:
- Asking your audience some thought-provoking questions
- Citing a surprising or unbelievable statistic or fact
- A meaningful or inspiring quote
- A short and sweet anecdote
Since your motivational speech will be short, its opening is all the more important. You have even less time to introduce your audience to the topic, get them hooked, and pave the way for the rest of the speech. It’s also worth noting that, if your audience needs background on a topic or idea in order to understand it, it’s important to provide that right away in a short motivational speech.
Even in a longer motivational speech, it’s important to get right to the point and get your message across to your audience. No audience appreciates their time being wasted, so your motivational speech should be brief, to-the-point, and as condensed as possible without losing understanding, ease of conveyance, or meaning.
Your speech needs to be structured, easy to understand, and meaningful. This means avoiding excessive prose or sentences that don’t add to your point. Your structure should be clean, logical, and easy to follow regardless of the topic. Don’t decorate your speech much or at all. The purpose of your speech is to prove a point or to address a problem, after all.
When creating your speech, you should always be honest and real. If you write things into your speech that you don’t believe or subscribe to, your audience will know. If you can’t relate to or at least empathize with your own concepts, you may want to think about adjusting the subject of your speech. A normal speech might be able to get away with this, but a motivational speech depends very much upon being honest and touching the heart.
Your speech should feature a call to action, as well. What problem are you trying to solve? Is the issue you’ve identified wildlife preservation? If that’s the case, perhaps your call to action should be for people to volunteer and donate their time towards saving our wildlife. Whenever you’re giving a motivational speech, make sure there is a course of action mentioned within to give your audience an easy route to follow.
Encourage your audience to engage with what you’ve talked to them about thus far. If your audience is a group of employees under your care, call them to work harder, find a solution to a problem, or improved conditions in the workplace for the benefit of the place as a whole. If your audience is a group of recovering smokers, call for quitting by reminding them of how their health is at stake.
When you’re looking to engage and hook your audience, playing to their emotions is essential. Throughout your speech, you should be sure to use emotional language, use stories that evoke emotion, and help your audience relate to you emotionally as much as possible.
When your audience connects with you and your speech emotionally, that creates your best possible chance to hold your audience’s attention, change the way they think, and influence the way they act going forward from the speech.
Emotions are an undeniable catalyst for inspiring action. Since this is the end goal of a motivational speech, you should thus try to evoke strong emotions in your audience whenever possible. Whether your speech plays on happiness, sadness, anger, or outrage, speaking to these emotions is an excellent way to craft your speech.
Besides involving your audience’s emotions, it should involve their thoughts, too. Your speech should be designed around making your audience think in addition to making them feel. Present questions that your audience must think about twice to decide what they really believe, and keep them thinking even after your speech is finished.
This might seem like a tall order when you’re only creating a short speech, but making your audience think is essential. It can provide several benefits, such as:
- Making your audience think about how they might be able to address your problem
- Making your audience think about your points, come up with counterpoints, or consider solutions
- Forcing your audience to consider how the issues you’ve presented might affect them
Write to Speech
The way you write work that will not be spoken out loud can be very different than work that is meant to be spoken. Often the case is that work that’s not meant to be spoken doesn’t work as well when it’s spoken out loud. Thus, when you’re writing something that will be spoken as its end result, you should pay attention to this and make sure it works when spoken, too.
An excellent way to practice this and prepare your speech to be spoken out loud is to rehearse your speech as you write it. Saying your speech to yourself before the day of is an excellent way to catch wordy trip-ups or other issues before they matter.
If you can, take things a step further and practice your speech in the mirror, too, as this is an excellent way to improve your own charisma as you work. Charisma only works to improve your audience’s involvement in your speech, so maximizing this skill should always be encouraged.
Do Your Research
There is absolutely no substitute for doing a thorough research when you’re crafting your motivational speech. If you skimp on your research and site unreliable or made-up facts during your presentation, your uncertainty will show through in your demeanor. What’s more, if a member of the audience catches a bad fact that you deliver, they might tune out, or worse, call you out on it during or after the speech.
You should also be prepared to cite things like clinical trials, the results of experiments, and any important metrics when giving your speech. Even if you don’t mention these citations out loud during the speech itself, you should be prepared to give them after the speech if any audience members are interested.
Being caught without your sources is an excellent way to fall into uncertainty or be discredited by your listeners. In the same way, make sure that you pull your statistics from reputable sites, as well. Sources and statistics are completely useless to you if they’re unreputable or fake, to begin with.
Watch Your Language
When you’re crafting your speech, the language you use within it needs some special attention. The language you use might vary depending on your audience, but there are also a few more rules that you should follow. For example, try to avoid jargon within your speech as much as you can. If you must resort to specialized words or if you desire to teach them to the audience, make sure to provide background.
Leaving your audience unsure of what you’re talking about is an excellent way to lose them and waste the remainder of your speech. If your audience doesn’t feel like they can keep up with you, they will quickly zone out and think about other things.
Always respect your audience by using the best level of language that they can understand, but that still respects their intelligence. After all, you would use far different language when talking to a three-year-old than you would when talking to a teenager, right?
Delivering Your Speech
Once you’ve created the perfect short motivational speech, you’re still not quite done. If you want your speech to have maximum impact, the way you deliver it is just as important as the way you write it. There are many things you can do to maximize the delivery of your speech, and we’ll go over the best of these methods in this section.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like we stated above, practicing your speech yourself is an excellent way to fine-tune how well you give it. Doing this in front of a mirror provides an extra bonus, or alternatively, you can give your speech in front of a video camera or in front of friends or family that you trust. Over time, practicing this way will improve the way you act and feel as you deliver your speeches, even going as far as boosting your own confidence.
Confidence while giving a speech is essential. Even if you have trouble with crowds, you should at least be confident in your delivery and confident in your material. While you practice your speech, though, be very careful not to craft a fake demeanor to use while you give your speech. Your audience will notice this, and they will be far more receptive to your speech and your message if you’re genuine and honest instead.
Prepare and Prepare Again
Even beyond practicing, there really is no replacement for preparing for any contingencies for your speech. You might lose your notecards on the day of, other speakers might run over time, or key people might fail to show up. You should be prepared for these scenarios and more when you’re going in to present your speech. Consider making preparations like:
- Making extra sets of notecards
- Preparing a shorter version of your speech
- Preparing a longer version of your speech
- Having questions on hand to address the audience with when your speech is over
- Preparing for different noise levels in your venue
No one is a naturally perfect speaker. Excellent speakers are as good as they are because they take the time to prepare and practice again and again. While you may be able to give an average or good talk even if you skimp on practice and preparation, you will never be able to give an excellent talk this way.
Delivering your speech is an integral part of making it impactful, motivating, and relatable. If you sound unimpressed with or uninspired by your own speech, after all, your audience will inevitably feel the same. You should sound knowledgeable and confident in your material, but still passionate and even emotional about your chosen topic.
An excellent way to practice delivering the speech you want is to record yourself speaking, then play it back. You can deliver your speech in front of friends or family, too, but hearing it from your own mouth is especially helpful. Doing this is an excellent way to take a closer listen to your tone of voice, your vocal excitement and passion, and how well you’re getting your point across.
Examples of Short Motivational Speeches
1. Matthew McConaughey – This Is Why You’re Not Happy
2. Peter Dinklage ‘Don’t Wait’
3. Lou Holtz ‘The 3 Rules to a Less Complicated Life’
4. Will Smith Self-Discipline Motivational Speech
5. Oprah Winfrey Motivational Speech
6. Jim Carrey Motivational Speech
A short motivational speech is a wonderful thing. Even a short speech can have an incredible, lasting effect on its listeners if it’s crafted and delivered the right way. What’s more, a motivational speech is an excellent way to address problems, brainstorm solutions, and get everyone involved in something and on the same page.
Of course, a motivational speech first and foremost duty is to motivate, and when done right, it doesn’t lack at this, either. If you take the proper time and care to craft your speech properly, in addition to knowing and respecting your audience, choosing a good story, and isolating a relevant topic, you will most assuredly be successful in crafting an effective speech that will absorb and motivate your chosen audience.