How to Start a Motivational Speech: 5 Strategies for Capturing Your Audience

If you want to be an effective motivational speaker, you have to know how to start a motivational speech. The beginning of a motivational speech is crucial when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention. You have to succeed in capturing your audience before you can motivate anyone. There is no single right way to start a motivation speech. Different tactics work for different audiences. With that being said, here are five strategies the great motivational speakers use to start their motivational speeches.

1 – Ask a Question to Pique Your Audience’s Interest

You want your audience to feel like your speech isn’t going to be a dry, one-way lecture. Asking a question is a simple way to make your audience feel like it is a two-way conversation. Your question should act as a lead-in to the core topic of your speech. If your speech is on how to stay motivated during a weight-loss program, then your question could be something like “By a show of hands, how many of you have ever started a weight-loss program, only to give up a couple weeks in?”

2 – Start With an Activity to get Your Audience Engaged

An activity works even better than a question in getting your audience engaged with your material. The key to successfully using an activity to start a motivational speech is paying attention to detail. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many people are expected?
  • What are the demographics of attendees?
  • How much time do you have?

These seemingly insignificant details are the difference between a hit activity and a flop.

Just like asking a question, you want your activity to be a lead-in for the content of your speech. The best activities include a physical element. Say your topic is the relationship between mood and motivation. You could start your motivational speech with a breathing exercise for calming one’s mind.

3 – Tell a Story to Make Your Motivational Speech More Relatable

Humans love a good story. Starting your motivational speech with a story is reminiscent of the days we learned from tribal elders through oral stories around the campfire. There are a few different types of stories you could tell, each with a different effect.

Historical Stories

You can use a story from history that relates to the subject matter of your speech. This story could be based on a popular fable or a factual historical event. The benefit of a historical story is it is easy to find a story that fits with your topic perfectly. The downside is they aren’t as personal as your other options. Your audience may relate to the story, but do they relate to you?

Professional Stories

Stories from your professional career are especially effective if your audience is made up of industry colleagues. If you are a motivational coach, tell a story about how you motivated a recent client using the advice you cover in your speech.

Personal Stories

It takes courage to tell a story from your personal life that shows your vulnerability, but it is one of the most powerful tools for connecting with your audience. You have to prove you have motivated yourself in your darkest times if you want to motivate your audience to do the same.

The type of story you tell comes down to knowing your audience.

4 – Quote a Scientific Study to Give Your Motivational Speech Authority

When it comes to how to start a motivational speech, research that backs your content is a great way to give your advice instant authority. There are studies conducted on motivation constantly in academia. Make it a point to keep updated on these studies. They could also provide material for your speeches.

5 – Address Your Audience’s Problem and Tell How You Will Motivate Them to Fix it

This final strategy is simple and to the point. People attend a motivational speech because they have a problem they want to solve. Your job is to let your audience know you understand your struggles, and that the speech you’re about to give was created to address these struggles.

How to Start a Motivational Speech: Final Thoughts

While all five of the strategies we covered are an effective way to start a motivational speech, you can only start each speech one way. Only you can make this choice. You have to know your audience, but more importantly, you have to know yourself. What kind of first impression do you want to make on your audience?

Now you know how to start a motivational speech – all that is left is the execution.

 Arman has over two decades of experience as a motivational speaker and peak performance coach, during which he has motivated hundreds of people to maximize their personal and professional potential. You can hire Arman to be a motivational speaker at your next event, or you can hire him directly to help you become your best self.


15 Ways to Start a Speech


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