How To Write a Great Motivational Speech: Get Ready to Pull Out All the Emotional Stops

How do you go about writing a motivational speech? Well the first think you need to know is what the speech is for? Is it to encourage a sports team to make that extra effort to win a championship game? Is it to spur on a country to keep going when the odds are against it, as Winston Churchill did in Britain during World War II? Is it Martin Luther King delivering his I Have A Dream speech on behalf of all African Americans? Is it a CEO urging a sales team to produce exceptional results?

I have written several speeches where the objective was to encourage a team of people or group of individuals to perform at their best. Here are some thoughts for those of you who must write a speech to motivate others.

Motivational Techniques

Writers and speakers love to incorporate suitable quotes into their speeches as part of the motivation. Thousands of quotations have been used over the centuries from classics of literature, to Holy Books, to words of wisdom from the famous and not-so-famous. They serve as starting points to a speech. One of my favorites is from Grace Murray Hopper, a remarkable woman who happened to be an admiral in the US Navy as well as a computer scientist. Grace Hopper lived from 1906-1992 and here's the quote - A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are (built) for. The quote is a great metaphor for life and is easily workable into a motivational speech.

Another ideal component of a motivational speech is a story that generates an emotional response. Great examples of such stories are published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. They typically tell of human beings who persist through tough circumstances to come out on top. In a motivational speech, it's even better if the speaker has gone through difficult circumstances of their own, and can relate their story as an example to motivate others.

The conjuring up of images in a speech can also be very successful in helping to motivate people. Images and quotes from successful athletes can be very powerful. So too can images from nature. I once wrote a speech for a CEO to deliver to his company's sales team. In the speech he spoke of the need for preparation and quiet before a period of breakout performance. We used a metaphor of a tree in winter, quiet and conserving its energy prior to the onrush of spring. Everyone in the audience could identify with the image as they prepared for the new sales year. Winter was what they were now going through, but spring was just around the corner with its signs of hope and of prosperity. They could almost touch it.

Now think about the language you are using. My experience is that short sentences employing the simplest of words are often more effective than complex words and phrases. It's particularly powerful if the speaker takes his or her time, speaks slowly and softly, and allows the nuances of the words to come through.

If you have been hired to write a motivational speech, look for those things that can help you. Search out appropriate quotes, discover stories that convey the messages you want to get across. Are there images and metaphors that will serve your purpose? At all times, keep your eyes and ears and intuition open for those situations, those events that spark the emotion and the language that expresses it. When you do that, your speech could and should get a standing ovation.

How To Write a Great Motivational Speech: Get Ready to Pull Out All the Emotional Stops

Neil Sawers develops books and e-books on business writing to help you grow your business. He is a strong supporter of entrepreneurs, small business and students in business and entrepreneurial programs. To discover how you can write more effective and compelling speeches for your business, begin by downloading the free chapter on The Discovery Process available at: In this chapter you will find great tools and concepts to support any business writing you do. Check it out.

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