What is a Keynote Speaker?


A motivational or keynote speaker, is a person who gives speeches with the sole intention of motivating and inspiring the people listening. Usually, they have a reputation as an expert in their field and upon the topic that your event is based on. They will encourage your audience to look at things from a different perspective and become more aware of their own abilities and talents.

What do keynote speakers do?

The definitive goal of any keynote speaker is to change the hearts and minds of their audience profoundly. Depending on the subject, this can be on an emotional and/or a mental level. They usually aim to help people make some kind of personal or professional change. Human beings have a natural tendency to tend to focus on all their obstacles, but a motivational speaker will people to focus instead on the many opportunities available to them. They do this by using a number of persuasive speech tactics to motivate and inspire.

Some speakers are hired to speak as special guests, and others make a planned tour of speaking engagements. The most popular speakers often also write and sell books, DVD’s and appear on television.

Many motivational speakers relay their own personal experiences to their audience and use the information to inspire others. We don’t all evaluate our significant life experiences to decide if they could be helpful to others, but a motivational speaker constantly reflects on their own life to find what information might be helpful to the people they speak to. Their audiences are often wide, speaking in a variety of venues like schools, company boardrooms, community centres, and conferences.

There is a motivational speech for literally every subject you could ever think of – but I’ve broken down the main categories of motivational speaker for you.

Personal Development

This is what comes to mind for most people when they hear “motivational speaker”. These speakers inspire and guide their listeners to find meaning and purpose in their lives. They often speak about inspiration, motivation or overcoming adversity, which can help people to take action and see their situation from a whole new perspective. Personal development keynote speakers inspire people to make positive change within themselves.


Business motivational speakers provide guidance and encouragement to business teams at differing levels, from salespeople to executive directors. Business speakers are usually experts in the specific field required by the company and are able to share their own stories of failure and success. They stimulate enthusiasm and help teams to develop a common purpose. When looking to hire a keynote speaker,  make sure they can inspire staff to improve their work and ultimately change the company for the better overall. Motivational speakers can be a really good tool for business owners to educate and inspire.


These speakers give inspirational talks about important community and social issues. Their aim is to educate the wider public and empower them to take positive action. They may also give speeches that rally people together to support a positive cause. Motivational speakers working in the community sector really are fighting the good fight – inspiring people to create a better world.

Could you be a keynote speaker?

Motivational speakers usually have very distinctive personalities. They’re often artistic, creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They can be original, unstructured, nonconforming, and innovative. They are usually adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident and optimistic.

If that sounds like you then you might very well have a good career as a motivational speaker ahead of you! If this is your chosen career path, then they great thing is it takes nothing to get started! Take your phone, hit record and start speaking from your heart. Post your talks all over social media and go from there! Most motivational speakers have to work for a long time at building their name, before they start getting paid engagements.

What’s it like to be a motivational speaker?

A keynote speaker tends to have irregular working hours depending on what their speaking engagements are. They also have to consider travel, as well as how much time they need to write and refine their speeches. Successful speakers are in high demand and can be called on to present at conferences and events all over the world. This means they can have really heavy travel schedules.

The job also doesn’t always stop once the speaking engagement is over. Most successful motivational speakers also write books, produce seminars, videos or podcasts, and appear on television.

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