Motivational speaker

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Tony Robbins at seminar Tony Robbins seminar.jpg
Tony Robbins at seminar

A motivational speaker is a speaker who makes speeches intended to motivate or inspire an audience. Such speakers may attempt to challenge or transform their audiences. [1] The speech itself is popularly known as a pep talk. [2]


Motivational speakers can deliver speeches at schools, colleges, places of worship, companies, corporations, government agencies, conferences, trade shows, summits, community organizations, and similar environments. [3] [4]

Early motivational speakers

One of the earliest known motivational speakers and credited for what was considered his revolutionary work was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) [5] an American essayist, poet, and philosopher.

Techniques and theories

The two main theories for why motivational speakers may need to be externally searched out if to fill the need of content theory or the process theories. [6]

The content theories were created by different philosophers, such as Abraham Maslow, Clayton Alderfer, Frederick Herzberg, and David McClelland. They focus on the inner workings and think of an individual and what will energize, stop behaviors, and keep it sustainable for long-term needs. These theories awknowledge that every individual is unique and has different needs in order to motivate them.

The process theories focus on the explanation and analysis of different people and what will energize, stop behaviors, and keep it sustainable for long-term needs. Brought into perspective by Victor Vroom, B.F Skinner, Ruth Kanfer, and Albert Bandura, it addresses the needs of learning and expectancy and realizes that individuals will make choices based on reward and compensation.

Speakers try and show their audience about the positive outcomes that can happen in life and focus on the possible opportunities rather than the limits that people set themselves to. [7] Using positively connated words rather than negative ones and gives charasmatic verbal and non-verbal social cues. Using their posture, eye contact, body language, facial expressions, and by dressing appropriately they can engage with the audience in a non-verbal way. They can change the tone of their voice, speech pattern, accent, and pitch to emphasize and show emotion behind what they are saying.

Related Research Articles

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Motivation is the reason for which humans and other animals initiate, continue, or terminate a behavior at a given time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often held that different mental states compete with each other and that only the strongest state determines behavior. This means that we can be motivated to do something without actually doing it. The paradigmatic mental state providing motivation is desire. But various other states, such as beliefs about what one ought to do or intentions, may also provide motivation. Motivation is derived from the word 'motive', which denotes a person's needs, desires, wants, or urges. It is the process of motivating individuals to take action in order to achieve a goal. The psychological elements fueling people's behavior in the context of job goals might include a desire for money.

A process theory is a system of ideas that explains how an entity changes and develops. Process theories are often contrasted with variance theories, that is, systems of ideas that explain the variance in a dependent variable based on one or more independent variables. While process theories focus on how something happens, variance theories focus on why something happens. Examples of process theories include evolution by natural selection, continental drift and the nitrogen cycle.

Expectancy theory proposes that an individual will behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behavior over others due to what they expect the result of that selected behavior will be. In essence, the motivation of the behavior selection is determined by the desirability of the outcome. However, at the core of the theory is the cognitive process of how an individual processes the different motivational elements. This is done before making the ultimate choice. The outcome is not the sole determining factor in making the decision of how to behave.

<i>Verbal Behavior</i> Psychology book

Verbal Behavior is a 1957 book by psychologist B. F. Skinner, in which he describes what he calls verbal behavior, or what was traditionally called linguistics. Skinner's work describes the controlling elements of verbal behavior with terminology invented for the analysis - echoics, mands, tacts, autoclitics and others - as well as carefully defined uses of ordinary terms such as audience.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Self-Reliance</span> 1841 essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Self-Reliance" is an 1841 essay written by American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. It contains the most thorough statement of one of Emerson's recurrent themes: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, and follow his own instincts and ideas. It is the source of one of Emerson's most famous quotations:

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Self-determination theory</span> Macro theory of human motivation and personality

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a macro theory of human motivation and personality that concerns people's innate growth tendencies and innate psychological needs. It pertains to the motivation behind people's choices in the absence of external influences and distractions. SDT focuses on the degree to which human behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.

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Dramatism, a communication studies theory, was developed by Kenneth Burke as a tool for analyzing human relationships through the use of language. Burke viewed dramatism from the lens of logology, which studies how people's ways of speaking shape their attitudes towards the world. According to this theory, the world is a stage where all the people present are actors and their actions parallel a drama. Burke then correlates dramatism with motivation, saying that people are "motivated" to behave in response to certain situations, similar to how actors in a play are motivated to behave or function. Burke discusses two important ideas – that life is drama, and the ultimate motive of rhetoric is the purging of guilt. Burke recognized guilt as the base of human emotions and motivations for action. As cited in "A Note on Burke on "Motive"", the author recognized the importance of "motive" in Burke's work. In "Kenneth Burke's concept of motives in rhetorical theory", the authors mentioned that Burke believes that guilt, "combined with other constructs, describes the totality of the compelling force within an event which explains why the event took place."

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"Brahma" is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, written in 1856. However, the poem was published in the November 1857 issue of The Atlantic. It is named for Brahman, the universal principle of the Vedas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zoltán Dörnyei</span> Hungarian-born British linguist (1960–2022)

Zoltán Dörnyei was a Hungarian-born British linguist. He was a professor of psycholinguistics at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. He was known for his work on second language acquisition and the psychology of the language learner, in particular on motivation in second language learning, having published numerous books and papers on these topics.

Work motivation "is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual's being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration." Understanding what motivates an organization's employees is central to the study of I–O psychology. Motivation is a person's internal disposition to be concerned with and approach positive incentives and avoid negative incentives. To further this, an incentive is the anticipated reward or aversive event available in the environment. While motivation can often be used as a tool to help predict behavior, it varies greatly among individuals and must often be combined with ability and environmental factors to actually influence behavior and performance. Results from a 2012 study, which examined age-related differences in work motivation, suggest a "shift in people's motives" rather than a general decline in motivation with age. That is, it seemed that older employees were less motivated by extrinsically related features of a job, but more by intrinsically rewarding job features. Work motivation is strongly influenced by certain cultural characteristics. Between countries with comparable levels of economic development, collectivist countries tend to have higher levels of work motivation than do countries that tend toward individualism. Similarly measured, higher levels of work motivation can be found in countries that exhibit a long versus a short-term orientation. Also, while national income is not itself a strong predictor of work motivation, indicators that describe a nation's economic strength and stability, such as life expectancy, are. Work motivation decreases as a nation's long-term economic strength increases. Currently work motivation research has explored motivation that may not be consciously driven. This method goal setting is referred to as goal priming. Effects of primed subconscious goals in addition to goals that are consciously set related to job performance have been studied by Stajkovic, Latham, Sergent, and Peterson, who conducted research on a CEO of a for-profit business organization using goal priming to motivate job performance. Goal priming refers to the achievement of a goal by external cues given. These cues can affect information processing and behaviour the pursuit of this goal. In this study, the goal was primed by the CEO using achievement related words strategy placed in emails to employees. This seemingly small gesture alone not only cost the CEO very little money, but it increased objectively measured performance efficiency by 35% and effectiveness by 15% over the course of a 5-day work week. There has been controversy about the true efficacy of this work as to date, only four goal priming experiments have been conducted. However, the results of these studies found support for the hypothesis that primed goals do enhance performance in a for-profit business organization setting.

Employee motivation is an intrinsic and internal drive to put forth the necessary effort and action towards work-related activities. It has been broadly defined as the "psychological forces that determine the direction of a person's behavior in an organisation, a person's level of effort and a person's level of persistence". Also, "Motivation can be thought of as the willingness to expend energy to achieve a goal or a reward. Motivation at work has been defined as 'the sum of the processes that influence the arousal, direction, and maintenance of behaviors relevant to work settings'." Motivated employees are essential to the success of an organization as motivated employees are generally more productive at the work place.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Source-Message-Channel-Receiver model of communication</span> Linear transmission model of communication

The Source-Message-Channel-Receiver model is a linear transmission model of communication. It is also referred to as SMCR model, Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver model, and Berlo's model. It was first published by David Berlo in his 1960 book The Process of Communication. It contains a detailed discussion of the four main components of communication in the form of an analysis of the different features of each component and how these features affect the efficiency of communication. Berlo understands communication in a wide sense that includes verbal and non-verbal communication. Source and receiver are usually distinct individuals but can also be groups and, in some cases, the same entity acts both as source and receiver. Berlo sees all these forms of communication as attempts by the source to influence the behavior of the receiver. The source tries to achieve this by formulating a communicative intention and encoding it in the form of a message. The message is sent to the receiver using a channel and has to be decoded so they can understand it and react to it. The efficiency or fidelity of communication is defined by the degree to which the reaction of the receiver matches the purpose motivating the source.

Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person's behavior, effort, or business result that supports the organization's goals and values, and exceeds his superior's normal expectations. Recognition has been held to be a constructive response and a judgment made about a person's contribution, reflecting not just work performance but also personal dedication and engagement on a regular or ad hoc basis, and expressed formally or informally, individually or collectively, privately or publicly, and monetarily or non-monetarily.


  1. Gilbert, Marsha (December 2002). "Why the motivation business is booming". Ebony, volume 58 No.2. Johnson Publishing Company. p. 136. ISSN   0012-9011 . Retrieved 2016-05-25. Black motivational speakers are Black but they challenge and transform Black, White and Brown listeners of every creed and orientation [...]
  2. McGinn, Daniel (July 2017). "The Science of Pep Talks". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  3. "Motivational Speaker Job Description, Career as a Motivational Speaker, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job". Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  4. Buchanan, Leigh (1 December 2010). "The Art and Business of Motivational Speaking". Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  5. PINSKER, SANFORD (2001). "Was Ralph Waldo Emerson Our First Motivational Speaker?". The Virginia Quarterly Review. 77 (3): 509–513. ISSN   0042-675X. JSTOR   26440814.
  6. Penberthy, Cecil (May 2001). "Factors To Be Considered When Utilising the Services of External Motivational Speakers". Rand Afrikaans University: 24–28, 36.
  7. Hussain, R., Alam, Y., & Zahid, M. S. (2022). ‘Awaken the Giant Within’: Linguistic Explorations into the Art‎ of Delivering Motivational Talks. Jahan-e-Tahqeeq, 5(1), 60-70.