Motivational Speaker Mission

There are three major components to every program, no matter what topic we choose:  MOTIVATION, STORYTELLING, AND LAUGHTER. This page is about the motivation, and what I do as a motivational speaker.

I’ve Always Been an Encourager to the People Behind the Curtain…

Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson motivating an audience
Like I said before, I’ve been encouraging people my whole life. It’s hard for me to explain, but I just have this need to:

  • make people feel good about themselves
  • let them know they are not alone
  • show them that they are braver than they think they are

If you travel to my town of Prides Hollow, you will meet:

  • the quiet people behind the scenes
  • the ones not in the spotlight
  • the ones the world doesn’t put on the front page of the paper or the cover of a magazine

The people who stand behind the curtain are just as important, if not more so, than the ones standing center stage. They often get the lion’s share of the work, and the mouse’s share of the reward. These are the people who aren’t told enough how much they matter. These people would benefit most from what I do. And, for the record, some of these people are in management, leadership, and high profile positions. It amazes me how many people need encouragement – even at the top.

Words Can Have a Lasting Impact…

As a motivational speaker striving to tell my story, but even more, tell theirs – I’m amazed at the power of words and how simple words from a stranger on a stage can reach into the very depths of someone’s heart and give them the courage they need to keep going. It sounds mushy, but I really do believe I am just a vessel for something bigger. I deliver a message they really needed to hear in this moment. Sometimes I get in the way. But most of the time I don’t. And that’s where the magic happens.

Why Motivational Speakers Get a Bad Rap…

I came into this business surprised to learn that calling yourself a motivational speaker had turned into something shameful. “Find a new word” they said. Yet the number of people searching for motivational speakers is overwhelming. People need motivation now more than ever. That need never goes away. So what happened to give people the negative impression of motivational speakers?

  • greed happened
  • egos happened
  • authenticity was replaced with technique
  • some motivational speakers became more concerned with branding/selling/numbers, bright lights, and brighter teeth
  • template changed from speaking from the heart to dropping million dollar phrases, selling bottles of potion that costs half a year’s salary (but wouldn’t truly work until you bought the next bottle)

At the very least, I think the world changed and motivational speakers didn’t change with it. Did every motivational speaker take the path to the dark side? Of course not. But enough did to put a stain on the industry’s reputation. And so, many people have been “let down” by motivational speakers.

But let me also speak on our behalf for a moment. Let’s entertain another perspective. Those people not impressed with a particular motivational speaker were people who found that the motivational speaker did not change their lives one bit. And here’s the dirty little secret – they’re not supposed to change your life. And any motivational speaker who claims to change someone’s life is off base. NOBODY can motivate you in a lasting way. Period. Motivation is an internal thing. We can encourage you, excite you, and motivate you for a short time. But… it wears off. Usually, much too fast. Those people looking for something external to motivate them are in for a long, empty wait. So perhaps it’s those people blaming the motivational speaker for not making them happy. I’m just giving you another perspective.

Just Because a Speaker Thinks Their Subject Is Exciting, Does Not Make Them a Motivational Speaker

I heard a speaker claim that every speaker is a motivational speaker. I hear speakers say that they should get to call themselves motivational speakers because (as an example) their information about social media is exciting, and by gosh that’s motivating! Really? I call foul on that one.

If a meeting planner is staring at an agenda to fill, and knows they want to end the conference with a motivational speaker to:

  • rally the crowd
  • encourage the attendees to take action
  • finish the conference on a high note

The meeting planner is looking for an emotional experience charged with energy and entertainment. Make no mistake, we’re not talking about the same level of energy required for breakout sessions or even other general sessions. Clients know exactly what they mean when they ask for motivation. Sadly, many speakers don’t.

Motivating others is about helping them develop the right mindsets, attitudes, and action plans to get the life they want. Motivating others has nothing to do with the speaker and how they got there, and everything to do with the audience. We are a mirror to reflect their power and potential (wow, that sounds deep). Motivational speakers, in order to truly be impactful, must care about serving their audience and focus on lifting them up. I’ve seen many speakers whose language did not reflect a desire to help the audience. And I’m sure you have too. Motivational speakers go beyond sharing information, and instead deliver a speech with an emotional impact.

So Why Have a Motivational Speaker at Your Event?

Personally, I think that motivation should be a part of every speech, no matter what you speak about. And I think that motivating the attendees should be part of every conference. Information can be taught, skills can be learned, and facts and figures can be looked up on the internet. It’s attitude that makes the difference in whether someone succeeds or fails. I make the analogy of having a fancy ship with all the finest parts. But without wind in the sails, it will go nowhere.

Let me tell you why I think motivation is important from a strictly business perspective – it fills seats. Just about every event is concerned with filling seats. There are two key moments in a conference/event that will impact the future success of that conference – the opening and closing. Those are the two moments people remember most, especially that closing moment that people take with them. The strong conference closing becomes the chatter and conversation attendees share with their friends, and it generates excitement for next year. So, you want to start with a bang and end with a bang. Since people remember most what they’ve had an emotional connection to, you want those moments to be charged with emotion and energy. That’s what a motivational speaker (at least a good one) does. Speakers who focus on the transfer of information cannot. Motivational speakers deliver a show charged with energy, filled with emotion, and (surprisingly) filled with content. It’s a big slot to fill, and only a few motivational speakers can fill it.

I’m Not a One-Size-Fits-All Motivational Speaker

If I were a perfect fit for every audience, I wouldn’t be that unique. My style is different. It’s not for everybody. And I’m not going to water it down to fit everybody, no matter how much I think I want that job. The world’s beauty lies in its diversity, and all the beautiful stories of life from where we all sit. We all bring different styles  to the table. I’m only bringing one tiny perspective. I’m telling my own small story in my own way, and I’m hoping that it has a big impact. Until we talk, we don’t really know if we are a good fit. (Unless you’ve seen me before and already have a good idea of what I do and how I do it. And even then we need to talk about how I can make this real for your group.) Every group is as different as the people sitting in the audience. I don’t want to be in front of the wrong audience any more than you want your audience in front of the wrong speaker. I’m not afraid to tell you there might be someone else better for you , and sometimes I do know just the right speaker. I’d rather help you get what you want than convince you I’m what you want.

Here’s What I Promise to Do as Your Motivational Speaker

  • I promise to take the time to get to know your group even if I have to do that on my own, through internet research. I will try to put myself in your shoes to get a feel for what you are facing.
  • I promise to be available to you before the event to:
    • help you promote your event
    • do everything in my power to help make the event special
  • I will do everything my schedule will allow to help you with press interviews, and pre-event promotion.
  • I promise to write my speech with you in mind. I won’t take another speech and swap out the city and company name to fit you.
  • I promise I will not use my time on stage as an opportunity to sell products or coaching. I believe that the moment they think I’m trying to sell them something else is the moment I lose their trust. Motivating them is more important to me than getting money out of them.
  • I promise to give you as much time as I am able, believing that your audience deserves as much accessibility to me as possible. I will be hands on, mingling, hugging necks, helping in whatever way I can to make this time together special. I believe that the experience for your audience is enhanced when they get to actually come up and talk to the speaker, have lunch, and share a moment in a hallway. I have seen speakers who refuse to have contact with the audience, claiming to need their private time to prepare or leave. I’ll take that private time before I get there. I’m there for you.
  • I promise to be accessible to your audience even after I am gone through channels like Facebook, email, mail, and phone. Sometimes I leave people with more questions and a need to talk this through with someone. I’m happy to be that someone. Let’s give them something that will truly help them change their lives.
  • I promise to stand on that stage and be in the moment, and to give it everything I’ve got. I’ll treat your speech as if it’s the last show of my life, no matter who you are or how much you paid to get me there. I will bare my soul, come out of my comfort zone, and challenge myself to give you more than I thought I could. That way I can walk off that stage knowing I had nothing more to give.