The Best Motivational Speaker? It depends...

motivational speaker Feb 13, 2023

Whether it is for the company conference, sales kickoff, or client event, somebody inevitably searches for ‘the best motivational speaker’. Most professional speakers and subject matter experts despise this term, but it is the number one Google search phrase, for this role.

Every corporate event can be improved with a top motivational speaker who tells great stories and elevates the thinking beyond the spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentations, but who is the best motivational speaker for your conference or event?

Getting a Top Motivational Speaker 

Getting a top motivational speaker depends on your budget and their availability but there are other factors to consider:

  1. What outcome are you looking for, how do you want the audience to think, feel, and act differently after the speech?
  2. How much is your audience ready to be challenged? Or are you looking for corporate entertainment?
  3. What is the theme of your event?

If your motivational speaker provides the keynote, point 3 is critical. But when it comes to getting the right speaker at the right time you need to consider culture and geography.

Motivational Speaker, Australia 

Australians are obsessed with sports, and the top motivational speakers in Australia typically come from sporting backgrounds.

A recent list of the top 10 motivational speakers in Sydney, Australia revealed that 6 of the listed were from sports, one from TV, and 3 inspiring stories of overcoming adversity.

The sporting analogy translates easily to business. There’s preparation and teamwork, challenge and adversity, and finally victory. Sports are exciting and inspiring, and the audience can easily imagine themselves as the hero or heroine, stepping out onto the field to win the grand final. 

Motivational Speaker, USA

Americans, like Australians, are fond of sporting stars but also have an affinity for authors, politicians, evangelists, and TV personalities. The key to getting to the top of the motivational speaker list in the USA, is energy, enthusiasm, and humor. 

One of the biggest motivational speakers in America both literally and figuratively is Tony Robbins, a personal finance instructor, and self-help author. He became well-known from his infomercials and self-help books. Robbins runs his own events and so it's unlikely you can hire him for yours.

The Clintons provided the blueprint for becoming a motivational speaker after your term in political office, and Barack Obama has been paid a whopping $400,000 per speech. So, unless your budget stretches to Oprah Winfrey or Barack Obama, you will need to narrow your search criteria.

Motivational Speaker Europe, London, Lisbon, Barcelona, Stockholm, etc.

Europe is rich in culture and has many beautiful destinations for Global Conferences

Cultural differences affect the values, beliefs, and perspectives of an audience, and motivational speakers need to be able to connect with their audience on a cultural level. A motivational speaker who is effective in one country or culture may not necessarily be effective in another, as cultural norms and expectations can vary widely.

In some cultures, personal stories and anecdotes are highly valued, whereas in others, a more straightforward and data-driven approach may be preferred.

There is no single "best" motivational speaker style for Europe, as the preferences and cultural norms can vary greatly across the region. However, some general characteristics that are likely to be well-received in Europe include the following:

  1. Cultural Sensitivity: Motivational speakers should be sensitive to and aware of the cultural differences within Europe
  2. Emphasizing Empathy and Understanding: A speaker who is able to connect with the audience on a personal level, demonstrating empathy and understanding, is more likely to be well-received than one who is brash and self-promoting
  3. Evidence-based Approach: Europeans generally value data and evidence, so look for a motivational speaker who is able to present their message in a data-driven combined with stories
  4. International Experience: Motivational speakers who have international experience and have spoken in different countries across Europe will be appreciated, as they are more likely to have a deeper understanding of cultural differences across the region.

Motivational Speaker, Singapore, and Asia

Building on the point about cultural differences, Singapore, the gateway to Asia is a top destination for conferences because English is the default national language. This ease of access can be the undoing of an ill-prepared motivational speaker who does not know how to engage a reserved audience and does not have local examples.

Japan and Korea prefer a more formal and serious approach and there’s a funny story of a speaker who told a joke, which was translated by the interpreter and received a laugh from the audience. After the presentation, the speaker said to the interpreter, “that joke went down very well, didn’t it?” 

The interpreter explained that telling a joke wasn’t appropriate in South Korea and so he translated, “Speaker telling a joke, please laugh”. 

In Summary,

An effective motivational speaker is defined by their ability to adequately set the tone for an event with an impactful, insightful, stimulating, and thought-provoking presentation. Engaging the audience is often determined by the speakers' ability to properly connect and resonate with their audience and maintain interest with aspects such as appropriate humor, spontaneity, and storytelling. You might be able to select for these criteria yourself, but in many markets, you would be wise to contact an established speaker bureau and let them help you with curation.

Having been a global speaker for nearly 25 years, the President of the Professional Speaking Association of Spain, and the President of Asia Professional Speakers I know that claims of ‘best motivational speaker’ can be hyperbolic. What makes for an effective and engaging speech is deep subject matter expertise, engaging stories, a memorable model, and clear takeaways for the audience to action.

You can find out more about me on my speaker website,





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