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What is an Inspirational Speaker?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Inspirational speakers are oratory professionals who make their living by delivering speeches intended to inspire and uplift those listening. Speakers of this type can function in many different settings, offering speeches geared toward a wide audience or to a niche market within a given industry or culture. A speaker may offer seminars or workshops that accompany the speech, for an extra fee.

Many people assume that a motivational speaker and inspirational speaker are the same. While there are a number of similarities between the two, each fills a particular need. In general, a motivational speaker will attempt to enlighten, inform, and call people to a specific course of action as a result of his or her presentation. While an inspirational speaker also seeks to enlighten and inform, the final object is to provide general support that encourages people to look at their lives and attitudes in new ways. Thus, the words of the inspirational speaker also motivate, but are intended to encourage people to apply general principles to their own situations in their own unique ways.

One of the settings where an inspirational or motivational speaker may flourish is as the keynote speaker at a business convention, conference, or a celebration such as a retirement dinner. Depending on the general tone of the event, the inspirational keynote speaker may choose to go with a serious approach, or keep the speech somewhat light and fun. In general, speeches at events of this type are kept to a shorter period than other settings, often in the area of twenty to thirty minutes.

For seminars or workshops, an inspirational speaker may take center stage and continue with his or her presentation for anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. Depending on the setting, the speaker may offer the audience a short interlude at a strategic point in the presentation, then return to finish the speech. A strategy of this sort can be especially helpful in that the interlude can be timed to occur just after a key point is made that the speaker wants the audience to take away from the event. Once everyone is back and settled in for the remainder of the speech, the speaker can build on that point, helping to reinforce the importance and increasing the chances that the audience will take the core intent of the speech away with them.

There is no formal training that is required to become an inspirational speaker. Certain skills are helpful with this type of career, such as a powerful speaking voice that carries well in large spaces, strong language skills, including clear enunciation and a versatile vocabulary, and the ability to be comfortable in front of a crowd. The best speakers possess the ability to connect with people in the audience by making eye contact, the use of gestures and facial expressions, and in general drawing the audience into the flow of the words spoken by the speaker.

As a career option, choosing to be an inspirational speaker can be a lucrative decision. Speakers who build up strong reputations or become a recognized authority in a given area can command high prices for appearances at conferences and other high profile events. In addition to live events, a growing number of inspirational speakers also offer recordings of their speeches for sale, as well as hold teleconferences that are intended to motivate and inspire people who are willing to pay a flat fee to attend the event.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including Practical Adult Insights, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By jefmenguin — On May 13, 2011

I am an inspirational speaker from the Philippines. I believe that you have given a generic definition which is helpful to those who are considering to become an inspirational speaker.

Some people think that motivational speakers make people do something. There is a grain of truth to that. His talk is designed to make the audience act in specific ways. He wants to move (push or pull) them. The inspirational speaker breathes life.

I hope to be of help to others too. I intend to write more about inspirational speaking in my blog and I have already publish a few articles.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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