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On Becoming a Man: Random Thoughts on Motivational Talks



“After the initial buzz, the effort to make a difference must begin.” – Kenneth Kwan

Last month, I wrote about the definition of success, expanding on John Maxwell’s version. It had resonated so much with me that I had to share it with my faithful readers. All those who commented seemed to have enjoyed reading, some even connected with it on a deeper level. Nevertheless, a regular reader raised caution about ‘so-called motivational speakers’ who have mastered the use of words and have easily captivated the hearts of gullible readers and followers. Of course, he was quick to also state that he was not referring to me; and I have only paraphrased him here too. That particular comment made me reason further and ask myself – why do we even write these things; is there really any new thing to write about; since many readers have most probably read about what I write, why do I need to still write about what others already know about, even much more than I could even comprehend? Perhaps, these are some of the reasons why I easily shy away from writing self-help articles. Everybody seems to keep repeating the same “6 essential principles for …bla bla bla”, “12 steps to recognising your career of best fit…” I digress, but you get the gist?

At some point in time, motivational talks and motivational speakers were ‘rubbished’ and stigmatized so much that most of them soon refused to be referred to by that tag anymore. They acquired new designations – “Inspirational Speaker/Preacher”, and became better accepted, even by the bigots. Even in the corporate world, the involvement of inspirational speakers in stimulating organisational change and improving productivity has been controversial. So, who is a motivational/inspirational speaker and how relevant can they be?

Simply, a motivational speaker is someone who has the special gift to inspire and motivate an audience to succeed, usually through speaking and/or writing. This person often taps into the power of storytelling in order to cause someone else to act for their own good. Usually, just like everyday advice and even church sermons, the listener has the power of choice – to listen or not to, to agree or disagree, to take action or not. Nevertheless, in more technical situations, like in the corporate world, it important to note that you don’t motivate people to change; oftentimes, you just need to involve them as participants. They most likely need to be involved in the process of executing change, beyond just being talked to. It is difficult to measure the impact of motivational talks, but when the speaker has some background in your area of expertise, as in software engineering or computer programming, it is easier to connect with them and hence be strongly impacted.

To summarise the long story: I think that motivational talks are good, but both the speakers and the listeners have a role to play. Motivational speakers and writers have the responsibility to skillfully paint clear pictures and tell their audience what they can do (not just the exceptional things that the speakers/writers themselves have done). Listeners and readers should also come to the table with clearly defined goals and with open minds to sieve the content for what is applicable and truly useful as opposed to what amounts to building castles in the air or just getting only a temporary high. What do you think about this? Do you subscribe to motivationals talks and to what extent, if yes?

P.S: I recently discovered Daniel Pink, the author of four provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. His latest offering, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” explores what truly motivates human beings and submits that “The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” I immediately added it to my reading list in January. I later found a lengthy review by Ikhide Ikheloa. Have you seen or read the book? I hope to lay my hands on it soon.

Photo credits:

Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./ When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

Digital Content Strategist | Creative Writer. Copy Editor. Storyteller. Vocalist. Amateur Pianist. Spoken Word Poetry recording artiste. Lover of Words & Images. #ArsenalFC. Twitter: @gbengaawomodu


  1. achu ushang

    June 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

    true,nyc 1

  2. faith

    June 1, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I do not like motivation/inspirational speakers…I feel D̶̲̥̅̊ε̲̣̣̣̥γ̲̣̣̥ only put too much emphasise on what we already know!D̶̲̥̅̊ε̲̣̣̣̥γ̲̣̣̥ don’t move me an inch….

    • omoibo

      June 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Motivational speakers emphasize what we already know because “common sense often isn’t common practice” It may just take us hearing that message one more time for it to click & for the mental wheels to start spinning

  3. Gbemi

    June 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hmmm Do i subscribe to motivational talks? very tricky. First of all i think real motivational speakers (preacher/ inspirers or what fancy name they give themselves) do not engage in giving self help remedies to people they should only help an individual discover their own unique self help tips (which is different for everyone). So yeah if the speaker is like one who allows me to be creative i would subscribe to him but still with caution because I am very dynamic!

  4. Gidi

    June 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Gbenga, i will pretend i did not read the first paragraph but you just reminded me of that your Benue project. I have been putting it off for a while. Let me dash to the bank and do the needful.

  5. hansel praise

    June 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    people pay motivational speakers to recite in an interesting manner a book they have read. so it takes the stress of reading off

  6. Gbenga Awomodu

    June 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks, Gidi. I got the alert. God bless you for supporting the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project.

  7. Michelle

    June 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I agree with Gbenga largely. We need nudges here and there but most of the time motivational talks are superficial, unpracticable, contain some harmful teachings, the lift it gives is shortlived, cannot give the power to do we ought to do and it definitely cannot hold one up through out the ages and through all kinds of challenges. The lift that comes from the word of God, the bible, can hold all through life and eternity, moreso we can lean on His everlasting arms. 🙂

  8. Abi

    June 5, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I feel motivational speaking works but only when mixed with Coaching. Its not enough to excite people, people need to define where they are, where they want to be and how to get they would get there based on the resources available to them. (Positive and Rational)


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