By: Agbaje Ayomide
Just in case you may have even been wondering what being a young motivational speaker in a country like ours entails, I want you to know that it is very understandable if indeed you have. And yes, you may have also been wondering, “which way sure pass for dis thing sef?” To start with and before we dive into the ocean of the matter, I need you to first know and scratch that motivational speaking is pure business in Nigeria — an under-exploited one at that. In fact, approach it best as an hustle. And in the bargain, forget about those who say they just have passion for it and love to inspire. So, without much rhetoric, here we have the ultimate guide and the sure plug to hammer as a motivational speaker:
You know, “a closed mouth,” they say “is a closed destiny”. And this can’t be truer, I daresay. To become a motivational speaker, you need to be on top of your branding game and shape people’s perception of you. Be active on all social media platforms, particularly on LinkedIn. Churn out write-ups, especially posts on #MotivationalMonday. Conjure up some rhyming statements in your content to sound deep — even if they contain no real substance and coherence. Also, have an overly-updated profile filled with lots of top-notch and non-existent roles — even though you’re still unemployed. Attach a catchy headline and long bio of sweet stuff about you, too. Have a flashy professional headshot, preferably one featuring you decked in a spruce suit and tie or corporate wears, beaming your smile to the camera flashes. It is even particularly important that the headshot must have a photo studio background. You will look so fresh and nice. And your audience will see you as rich and big, even though you are not in real sense. All is packaging, or at least a Potemkin village for you. After all, you’re only branding yourself.
Cook up a story
Yes, do it. Cook up a very emotional story of your past life and background. And brand it. And not just any story; I mean a sweet rags to riches and grass to grace story. Also, make sure it evokes empathy and has a sweet ending. That’s the trend in the industry, and what many of your audience will want to hear from you. People connect more with stories. Don’t even worry if it seems unrealistic. Tell them how you struggled with a humble background, lived an impoverished life, kept hopes alive and never gave up till you achieved success. Tell them how you started a business with zero capital and no team, and built into a sustainable venture. In fact, exaggerate the story. Spice it up with emotional triggers. And add salt of quotes like “if you can think it, you can surely achieve it.” Then, always tell this story at events and through posts on your social media pages. And yes, let this story be consistent, so many won’t get your scope. I know you’re asking yourself now, “what if I don’t have a rags to riches story to tell — or perhaps just yet?” It’s very fine, boy. The code is that the story you will tell doesn’t have to be exactly and really true. You dig?
Speak at events
Know that your worth as a motivational speaker is not in the number of people you will motivate and impact. Who even cares about that? Rather, your true worth lies in the number of events you attend and stages you appear on. When your branding game is smooth, tight and consistent, it is only expected that you begin to get invites and gig offers to speak at events and motivate an audience. Remember this is a business, so always ask what the compensation for you is like. No one speaks for free again. After all, you’re a businessman, and motivation is what you’re selling. Consequently, attending events will do a whole lot of good for your motivational speaking business by a long shot. It will have an overarching effect on your reputation. Your brand visibility will increase. You will get an appreciation award (or least a certificate) after the event that you will decorate your wall with, and also snap to post on your social media handles for the world to see. Your audience at the event will love and adore you like a celebrity. They will want to know you more and then ask for your contacts to be in your network. And there is no better feeling than that. Speaking at an event is a meritorious achievement for your business, and you should be very proud of it.
Expand thy ministry
Now that you’re fully into the business, it’s time to step up to the next level and status. Remember the goal is to subtly and stealthily make money from this business many are not even looking at yet. And you need to blow and arrive. So, always find ways to upgrade. Change those your supposed roles in organizations to new ones. Update, or perhaps overhaul, your social media profiles. Add some flesh to your bio; make it thicker. You can go extra by also changing your profile picture to a more dope headshot. Most importantly, change your titles. The title, Motivational Speaker, will be too common for your liking by then. Describe yourself as a Thought Leader. Personal Development Coach. Expert Speaker. Or even a Productivity Strategist. Just make the title a fancy and big one. That will make you earn respect.
Double your hustle
Also, organize a paid webinar. Tag it a masterclass, even though you’re yet to be master in the class. Well, you have built a brand already with the bricks of impression, and shaped people’s perception of you as a knowledgeable and deep somebody. You will be surprised how so much they would like to learn from you. Yes, it doesn’t even matter if what you are planning to deliver in your webinar is exactly what was taught in the one you just attended yourself. And yes, it does not matter if you have not even started applying the lessons. You just want to make money from this business as quickly as you can, and that’s what really matters. The fact is you’re (supposedly) selling your brain for money, and that’s not a bad idea. It’s simply your Midas touch.
Write a book
Yes, a motivational book. Be an author. This will only double your hustle, add some credibility to your brand name, and of course, fetch you cool cash from the book sales. In the book, emphasize more on your cooked-up story and seek to inspire people with some cool tips, insights and strategies to improve their lives — even if you don’t practise them yourself and you’re yet to figure out your own life. The good news is you don’t even need to be a writer to have a book to your name. Hire a ghostwriter to do the job for you, and help you start and finish the writing processes while you proudly enjoy the product. So, get ready to spend some money on this. Lest I forget, make the title of this book as catchy as possible. I mean, something like: “How To Make ₦1 million in 3 Days.” You get?
You are big already, yeah. And that’s a thing of joy. You have found your true path already. And you’re treading it. I mean you have some audience somewhere who now look up to you and what you share on your space to motivate them. And it’s only normal that you now have begun to dream big and be ambitious for fame. You shouldn’t remain a local motivational speaker. Your apical dream is to become a TEDx speaker. But don’t let the thought of it scare you. After all, if you can think it, you can achieve it. You can even start acting the dream. Here is a locus classicus. Post some long motivational contents on your WhatsApp status or do a long thread on Twitter, and then end it with this soft note: “thank you for coming to my TEDx talk.”
Agbaje Ayomide is a freelance writer and freelance editor. He is passionate about social entrepreneurship, community development and good governance. He deeply loves volunteering, reading, writing, mentoring and developing systems.