Sunday, February 17, 2013

Motivation Is NOT A Bad Thing

Over the past few weeks I have seen several people slam the idea of "Motivation" when it comes to speakers.  I realize that a few weak cheer-leading tactics in the business world, disguised as motivation, is what has people sometimes feeling "icky" about the concept.  However, motivation is a good thing... when defined correctly!

Content vs. motivation is a silly argument, as there are few examples of speeches that are pure motivation.  Without content there is nothing there at all.  A speech is not the best way to convey high level content, as it would be better to email a White Paper. Speeches rely on the interpretation of each individual audience member.  All speakers should be motivational speakers, as without a call to action a speech quickly becomes a book report, brag, or data dump.  

Admittedly, some content sucks, but that is a discussion for a different blog post. 

Motivational speakers get a bad wrap (thanks Chris Farley!). In advance of an event people claim they care most about the "content" at conferences, which cause organizers to seek smart people who have done cool things.  But that does not always connect with ability to relate their stories to an audience.

The rub is that when sitting in the audience people do want style, experience and motivation from the keynote speakers and breakout leaders (coupled with their high level content).  Content alone can get dull very fast.  The opposite of motivation is not a good thing for the success of a conference.  

What is the opposite of motivation? -  De-motivating? Stifling? Sucks the energy out of the room?  None of these are what conference organizers want in their marketing materials.

(My mantra is "Just because someone is smart, or has done something cool.... it does NOT mean they belong on stage".)

Yet it is not too much to ask for those who make presentations to provide both useful and interesting content coupled with the ability to connect to an audience.  You can - and should - have both content and style in all presentations.  When people learn to improve their speaking skills it is an investment in their future audiences.

When people disrespect the idea of "motivation" they often can have a self agenda going on in the background.  They can be the ones who want to prove they are the smartest person in the room or they are misunderstanding what it is to provide motivation to people.  The "smartest" focus takes the spotlight and puts it on the stage, instead of on the audience.  The real stars of a conference are the participants.  When an audience member is motivated, it is something they know in their core.  It is individual. Not, as some claim, a false group feeling of fluff.  Saying that undermines the legitimate feelings of the people in the chairs, and demotes them to sheep.

I agree that there are speakers who play on the emotions of people and manipulate... but these are few and far between, and their tactics should not make the rest of the us sit through talks by those who are not invested in the audience.  A blah speech is an opportunity lost for everyone.

If we are really planning events that are about the people who attend, we need to put motivation side by side with content.  To allow speakers to suck the energy out of the room is a crime.  Not good.

What do you think.  This topic often can stir emotions, and I welcome those with differing ideas to let me know your two cents.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


Been There, Planned That said...

Speakers that talk too much about content usually are the ones that bore the audience. You are right, we need both content and proven speaking skills.

Unknown said...

Well, in my own experience, professional motivational speakers tend to do it naturally like they talk from their hearts.