I sat in the back of the room waiting for someone to recognize me as a guest and introduce me to the people already seated. It was my second Toastmasters meeting, and I intended to join the group. I was having a difficult time doing so, because no one spoke to me. It not being in my nature to wait, I walked up to someone who had some role in the club and asked if I could give him a check and join. The next week, I was speaking to the 50 or so members. The local Toastmasters club would become my home every week for two years.
Toastmasters is a tremendous club and the best vehicle available for learning to speak in public because you are continually given the opportunity to speak. They teach that there are four types of speeches, including speeches to inform, to instruct, to entertain, and to persuade. After speaking sixty times a year for the last five years, I can tell you that every speech is motivational.
If you are speaking to an audience, you want them to do something different. You want to move them see things through a new lens and produce a different outcome. If it were otherwise, why speak at all?
You may have to inform your audience as to why they need to do something different or how to do what they need to do, but ultimately you are informing them so they can take some new action. The information is provided to enable some change you believe necessary.
In some of the speeches I give, I instruct salespeople as to how to have difficult sales conversations. The purpose of my instruction is to model how to have these conversations to provide salespeople with the language—and the confidence—to have these conversations about, say, pricing objections. The instruction is delivered to motivate the audience to go an have the conversations that prevent their clients from underinvesting in the results they need.
My younger brother is a professional stand up comedian. He will tell you that his entertaining performance is designed to motivate people to laugh at themselves and each other, breaking down any real or imagined barriers between groups of people. Even an entertaining speech is motivating in that it moves people to a different state.
The best speeches have the right balance of informing, instructing, entertaining, and persuading. You know these speeches when you see and hear them because you leave believing something different and taking new actions based on what you experienced.
I have many friends who speak who chafe at the idea of being a “motivational” speaker. But in the end, every speech is motivational.