April 1, 2004
Q: I am ready to follow my dream of becoming a professional motivational speaker. I have no clue how I should begin. I recently joined a Toastmasters club and am considering joining a national speaking association.
—M. Davis, Via the Internet
A: Motivational speaking has captured great interest as more and more individuals believe they have a story to tell that will help another individual, if not change or alter another’s life. And, honestly, that’s where you enter—with your story, your message. “The most important advice I would give is to begin where you are with what you have,” says motivational speaker Stephen Duncanson, who heads True Destiny Communications, a company that also offers leadership training and personal development. “It will be your ability to communicate the uniqueness of your life’s experiences that will become your platform for a solid career.”
Before joining any other organizations, test your mettle by speaking in front of small local audiences, such as a high school career day or a women’s celebration at your church. Duncanson recommends the book Speak and Grow Rich (Prentice Hall Press; $17.99) by Dottie Walters, Lilly Walters, Lillet Walters, and Earl Nightingale.
“Being a dynamic motivational speaker is a journey, not a destination,” Duncanson adds. “All of the great ones—Brian Tracey, Tony Robbins, Harv Ecker, and Les Brown—will tell you that you don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started in order to be great.”