How Do I Become a Motivational Speaker?


Motivational speakers are presumed experts in their career fields. They make motivational and training presentations to organisations, including educational institutions and gatherings such as conferences.  These professionals often travel long distances to their various speaking engagements, allowing them to see many parts of their country and countries around the globe. While there are no specific education requirements, relevant experience and excellent communication skills are critical for any aspiring seminar speaker. 

These inspirational speakers are mostly self-employed, which means they get to choose which engagements to accept and which to decline.  However, this can result in an irregular booking schedule that might require many nights and weekends away from home. 

Career Requirements

Degree LevelDepends on topic and venue or bureau engaging the speaker 
Degree Field(s)Varies
Licensure and/or CertificationTop 10% of speakers are certified
ExperienceAlthough there is no set requirement, many are entrepreneurs or small business owners
Key SkillsPublic speaking, as well as the ability to stay ahead of industry trends and find new ways to market products and services
Salary (2015)Varies by experience. The BLS does not provide salary for motivational speakers, but the related category of vocational and educational counselors has a mean annual salary of US$56,490.

Sources: National Speakers Association (NSA), U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS)

There are no specific degree requirements for motivational speakers, but the top 10% are certified. Many event speakers have experience as entrepreneurs or small business owners, but this isn’t required. Key skills of professional motivational speakers include public speaking, staying ahead of industry trends, a good grasp of humour and finding new ways to market products and services. 

Speaking fees varies by experience. $1,000 and upwards per engagement. The US based related category of vocational and educational counsellors had a mean annual salary of $56,490 in 2015 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics). 

Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker

Step 1: Determine Your Area of Expertise

Seminar speakers are considered to have specialised knowledge in a particular subject area. Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a seminar speaker can attend professional industry-specific speaker coaching workshops to assist them in defining their strengths and concentration options. 

Success Tips:

  • Gain experience in a specific field, preferably your career field or passion. Seminar speakers often start as professionals in a particular field and evolve into speaking on the topic. Work experience can provide insight and experience that can be used in a keynote presentation at speaking engagements. 
  • Write a book. It is common for seminar speakers to be authors. Frequently, they are invited to speak about their book, as well as share information or anecdotes from it. 
  • Get an advanced degree in your field of interest. Having an advanced degree in a particular field may lead to speaking engagements at colleges or universities. Some academic departments may offer a speaker’s series and engage speakers from outside the university for these events. 

Step 2: Take Communication Courses

While a degree in communications is not required for a seminar speaker, public speaking skills are needed. Many colleges and universities offer public speaking courses in their communications programs. These programs may include other relevant courses, such as mass media, journalism, and non-verbal communications. Some schools may offer these courses and programs online. 

Step 3: Gain Speaking Experience

Most organisations, such as speaking bureaus that assist speakers in booking engagements require a demo video of you presenting your keynote in front of an audience. Aspiring seminar speakers can build confidence and improve their speaking skills quite fast by presenting to professional organisations, which can offer networking opportunities and lead to seminars, and workshops.

Success Tip:

  • Join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters International is an organization where an aspiring speaker can gain experience speaking to a group and also receive feedback on their presentation from other participants to improve their techniques. 

Step 4: Join a Professional Speakers Organization

Seminar speakers can further advance their careers by becoming members of professional organizations, such as the NSA, which offers membership benefits that include professional training and networking opportunities. Additionally, there are many organizations that promote speakers. These organizations generally require a fee to join, as well as a fee when speakers are booked for an event. Submission of a demo DVD may also be required to join. 

Step 5: Become Certified

Certification as a professional speaker is voluntary but will enhance your credibility and employment opportunities of being a motivational speaker of note. The NSA sponsors a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) credential for qualified NSA members. Membership in the organization for a minimum of three years is required before applying for certification. 

Hopeful motivational speakers should determine their area of expertise, gain speaking experience, take communication classes, join a professional speakers association, and become certified to give you the best opportunity to succeed in this profession.

Step 6: Find An Agent

Once you have done the first five steps, have glowing testimonials and want to grow your book of engagements, If you feel it’s an appropriate time to find an agent or speaking bureau who will promote you, then it’s a simple matter of selecting one that not only has an extensive client list but an agency that that you feel would promote you well in a very competitive market. 

There are many ways of finding these reputable speaking bureaus from searching online, recommendations from experienced speakers and talking to your local speaker’s association. Here is a link to the National Speakers Association of Australia:

The team at Blog Chicks have had personal experience with Sydney based Celebrity Speakers who book speakers & entertainers for events across Australia and internationally. If you are looking for a speaker for your event then these are the people to contact and their website can be found here: