Josh Sundquist

Josh Sundquist is a Paralympian and bestselling author who has shared his story at events across the world. His high-energy blend of humor and inspiration motivates audiences to adopt his ski...

How to Become A Motivational Speaker | Stop Trying to Sound "Inspirational"


Don’t try to be incredibly inspiring. Instead, try to be incredibly honest.

In other words, don’t say things merely because you think they sound inspirational. Say things because you believe they are true.

If your primary goal is to sound inspirational—which is what most motivational speakers, including myself, try to do at some point early on—you will instead sound cliché. Because if your only goal is to sound like what you think motivational speakers are supposed to sound like you are, by definition, imitating. And an imitation can’t be as good as the original because it’s just a copy, a replica, a forgery.

At best, the audience will think your speech is the same old stuff they’ve heard a hundred times. At worst, they’ll find your presentation phony and disingenuous.

The authentic version of you is a much more effective speaker than the best version of you imitating what you think a motivational speaker is supposed to sound like.

Seriously. There is nothing more inspirational as far as speeches go than a human being standing in front of a group of other human beings articulating in their own words the unique guiding principles they’ve learned from life. Not principles they read in a book. Not principles they heard another speaker say. Principles that have grown spontaneously through the pursuit of a challenging objective or in the midst of difficult circumstances. That is the stuff of truly motivational speeches, by which I literally mean speeches that are motivating.

Many people roll their eyes when they hear a “motivational speaker” is presenting at their meeting. Why? Because they’ve sat through too many speeches that are instead built on the shallow foundation of tired clichés.

Nothing will turn off an audience faster than reciting a list of cute phrases you read on an embroidered pillow.

Unless the phrase on that pillow changed your life. If so, then yes by all means put it in your speech. But don’t just recite the phrase for us. Tell us the story about whatever dark hour you were facing, about the moment you saw that pillow lying there on the couch, and about what you learned as a result of applying it’s cross-stitched advice to your situation.

Get it?

Don’t repeat what you’ve heard. Share what you’ve learned.

Which is not easy. But if you can clearly communicate the most profound lessons that life has engraved on your soul, honestly baring your past struggles and dilemmas, that is the most inspirational sort of speech you can give. In fact, it is the only kind of inspirational speech you can give, because anything less simply isn’t inspiring.

Source: Josh Sundquist

Want to bring Josh to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen! 

Preview of my one-man show
Posted October 10th 2018
I perform a one-man show every Friday night in Santa Monica (more info).Here's my new preview video about the show: Or if you ...

US Amputee Soccer Team
Posted October 9th 2018
I have the honor of competing on the US Amputee Soccer Team. (In fact, we'll be competing in the Amputee World Cup in Mexico th...

Jetting Home for the Show
Posted September 3rd 2018
A client generously offered a private plane to make it possible for me to give a keynote speech at their event and still make i...

What does Mom think of my show?
Posted August 20th 2018
My mom traveled to Los Angeles to watch the one man show I'm performing this summer. Here's what she thought about it.

Opening Night!
Posted August 19th 2018
My wife Ashley and I are producing a show in Los Angeles right now. It's based on my book WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME.Here's a ...

Behind-the-Scenes at My One-Man Show
Posted August 18th 2018
My wife Ashley and I are producing a show in Los Angeles right now. It's based on my book WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME.Here's a ...

Meeting Her Parents
Posted August 17th 2018
A hilarious story involving those socks that disappear in the dryer.

Playing Amputee Soccer
Posted August 9th 2018
I have the honor of competing on the US Amputee Soccer Team. (In fact, later this month we'll be playing in matches against bot...

A Hello Saved His Life
Posted August 8th 2018
A remarkable true story about my first day of high school.Recorded at my keynote for Express Employment Professionals.

Case Study--Customer Service at Belk
Posted May 29th 2018
Last week I spoke to employees of Belk, the department store. An audience member told me this epic love (and customer service!)...