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Motivational Speakers: Fascinating people

By Romer Cherubim

One of the captivating things about living in a Western country is that you can experience many events, which are as informative as they are entertaining. Such an event is a motivational speaker's free presentation. A motivational speaker gives talks to large audiences in plush surroundings. He has a team of helpers at these talks, wearing T-shirts or other garments, promoting him. Before he appears to give his talk, the speaker is announced amid such fanfare that you might think that you are about to have an audience with a superhero. The motivational speaker finally runs onto his stage to applause and cheers as if he is a rock star.

A motivational speaker can command fees for his performances that are so high that they would make doctors, lawyers and even some CEOs of large corporations green with envy. In short, motivational speakers are treated with almost godlike reverence. But what makes these people so special?

At first sight, you would have to say that there is nothing out of the ordinary about them. Motivational speakers often have little or no formal higher qualifications. Indeed, they are likely to tell their audiences this at the beginning of their talks to convince their listeners that success is possible, however unimpressive a person's academic background is. Further, motivational speakers usually have quite dull work histories.

Motivational speakers earn their reputations by being "inspirational". They try to convince their audiences that the pursuit of wealth is all that really matters. The speakers make it clear that they have the formula for success. They use standard classroom props such as flipboards and overhead projectors as aids. However, the most striking part of motivational speakers' presentations is that they encourage their listeners to actively participate in their talks in a novel way. Motivational speakers do this by prompting their audiences to express their approval of the speakers aloud and at regular intervals. Cynics might say that this is brainwashing.

Most motivational speakers are millionaires. It should therefore come as no surprise that the "bottom line" is never far from their minds. During their presentations, motivational speakers promote short courses that they are offering at some later date. These courses are frankly too expensive. Regardless, audience members queue in their droves to sign up for them, in the firm belief that their respective speaker holds the key to untold riches.

There are two types of motivational speaker - "specialists" and "generalists". The specialists are respected because they have gained names for themselves in specific industries. They encourage their listeners to follow them into these same fields and employ the same strategies that the specialists have used. On the other hand, the generalists inspire their audiences by telling them that success is within their reach if they adopt a certain way of thinking, which can be applied to any industry. The generalists are therefore more philosophical in approach. One thing that both types of speaker have in common is that they are selling a dream - a dream of what life could be like, if you follow their advice.

What kind of people are attracted to see a motivational speaker in action? It would be cruel to say that motivational speakers go for one particular demographic. However, one thing is for sure and that is they are looking for those, who for one reason or another, are lacking direction. These people are looking for quick fixes to their problems and believe that motivational speakers provide the solutions.

It goes without saying that motivational speakers are selling a myth. They do not subscribe to the idea that success is earned through hard work and dedication. Instead, motivational speakers believe that their "get rich quick" schemes attract prosperity. In this way, these orators portray themselves almost like saviours of the dispossessed and view any sceptics with derision. These speakers develop a sort of personality cult, which is distasteful. Having said that, it would be wrong to say that they have nothing valuable to offer. Motivational speakers do advocate using common sense to tackle everyday problems, which is commendable. But like many things in life, you need to treat them with a certain degree of caution.

Romer Cherubim

Freelance journalist

UK