The H.E.A.R.T. of a Filipino Motivational Speaker

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of motivational speakers all over the world. In the Philippines alone, there are seminars and workshops happening everywhere all year round – helping people improve their career, health, finances, relationships, business and even spiritual awareness.
If you have attended a few of these seminars yourself, it is very likely that at least one Filipino motivational speaker stands out from the rest. Do you have one or two favorite speakers? What do you like about them? What makes them remarkable or unforgettable?
Motivational speakers come in different shapes and forms. Some speakers are loud and cheerleader-y, infecting the audience with a rah-rah-rah attitude. Others are low-key and subtle, still others are funny as hell.
In my 15 years as a motivational speaker, I’ve had the chance to share the stage with different kinds of motivational speakers in the Philippines, and have observed what worked and what didn’t. Some of the speakers I’ve met have even come to me for training when they find out that I’m also a voice and speech coach. Having been exposed to the public speaking arena led me to the realization that there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to deliver a motivational talk.
In a single seminar, one speaker can be super serious and the next speaker can be extremely funny, and both of them could be equally remembered as great speakers by the audience. One technique can work very well for one speaker, and can be an epic fail for another. That’s why when I teach public speaking, I don’t focus so much on the “form” – stand like this, talk like that, hold the mic like this, etc. Instead I teach how to cultivate one’s PRESENCE onstage.
So what separates a Filipino motivational speaker from a GREAT one? Great motivational speakers speak with a H.E.A.R.T.
H – umor
Humor is a great tool to draw your audience’s attention during your talk. It catches them off-guard, breaking the stereotype of what they expect for you to say next. It also helps lighten the mood in a motivational talk because, no matter how meaningful or informative the content is, the audience will always appreciate a “brain break.”
I have seen a lot of motivational speakers in the Philippines who do not seem to understand the right way to apply humor in their talks. Some speakers – especially the new ones – make the mistake of cracking a joke only in the beginning and then become serious all throughout. Then there are other speakers – unfortunately, some of them veteran – who turn their talk into a standup comedy, making their audience laugh until they wear out.
Great motivational speakers use humor that is relevant to their audience. I know of some speakers whose talk got cut short, when the client asked them to get off the stage for having offended someone in the audience. Knowing your audience is key to being effective in making a punchline.
E – motional connection
Just because you’re onstage as the speaker doesn’t mean you can perpetually download them with information they probably don’t care about in the first place! Unfortunately, I have seen some motivational speakers in the Philippines do this. Some speakers read bullet after bullet of data, or show chart after chart of statistics that leave the audience in information overload. Other speakers spend their entire time onstage talking only about themselves, starting from their Kindergarten days!
Keep in mind that without your audience public speaking would only be SPEAKING! There’s nothing wrong with sharing facts and figures, or telling your stories. My point is, you have to make sure you deliver it in such a way that is relevant to the audience. A motivational talk is more of a conversation than it is a performance. So interact with your audience by asking questions and using inclusive language like “we” instead of “I”.
Bottom line, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
A – uthenticity
If you talk to someone with their eyes glued to their smartphone and they say, “keep talking, I’m listening,” would you believe them?
Being authentic – genuine, sincere – is perhaps the most important thing any Filipino motivational speaker should learn to cultivate. No matter where you go, action would always speak louder than words. This gets amplified when you are on stage speaking to an audience.
No amount of public speaking training or book can teach you how to be authentic as a motivational speaker. That’s because your authenticity lies on 2 factors only – your INTENTION and your PASSION. Is your topic something that you’re excited to share to the audience? Do you care enough to share what you know? Are you opening yourself up to the audience so that they will be inspired and motivated?
For instance, your intention for speaking could either be to brag about your achievements or to inspire the audience to reach for their dreams, you would deliver your talk differently, wouldn’t you think so? And your audience can easily smell that.
Your authenticity as a motivational speaker is expressed through your words, tone of voice and actions that are SPONTANEOUS and UNREHEARSED. So as long as you’re clear with your intent in your heart, these things will follow naturally.
R – eal-Life Experience
This one is pretty straightforward. Part of being authentic as a motivational speaker is having your own experiences to share in relation to the topic you are speaking about. This helps humanize the knowledge that you are sharing to your audience, and will inspire them to apply what they learned seeing that you have done it yourself. Which leads me to the final point…
T – estimony
As a motivational speaker, people look up to you not only as the expert in your topic, but more importantly, a living testimony of what you teach.
The most fun part of my every talk is when the audience ask me to do a “sample” of my character voices, when I get to the part about that part of my career. When you tell your audience about what you do – especially if it has something to do with performing – they would expect to catch a glimpse of it onstage.
Being a testimony does not only end once you put the microphone down and step down from the stage. In the age of selfies and social media, it is very likely that your audience will eventually look you up online (after posting their selfie with you) to find out a little bit more about this “great speaker they just listened to.” So make sure that what they saw onstage is aligned to what they will see online. This establishes your credibility as an authority in your field.
Bottom line, being a motivational speaker is not only about what you CAN GIVE the audience… it’s about what the audience NEEDS from you. As long as you have the H.E.A.R.T., you’re well on your way to becoming one of the great motivational speakers in the Philippines.