The Difference Between Public Speakers and Motivational Speakers

We’ve been in the public speaking industry for a long time, and one of the things that we’ve noticed throughout the years is that people tend to be unsure of the difference between public speakers and motivational speakers and how they can tell one from the other.

This might sound like it’s just a matter of semantics, but it can be super important when it comes to hosting an event and putting together an agenda. It’s also important to know if you’re a public speaker so that you can make sure that you’re pitching yourself correctly to potential clients.

That’s why in today’s article, we thought we’d spend some time looking at the similarities and differences between public speakers and motivational speakers. Let’s get started.

What is a public speaker?

A public speaker is anyone who stands up in front of an audience to deliver a talk to them. They might be a CEO announcing a new product, a teacher standing in a classroom, or a best man at a wedding. In fact, the vast majority of us act as public speakers at some point or other.

Professional public speakers are public speakers who’ve been able to monetize their expertise and their oratory skills to make a living from delivering public speeches. They often act as consultants at companies or work the conference circuit, traveling from city to city to speak to audiences.

Public speakers are always in demand because there’s always a need for us to learn from other people. The best public speakers have carved out a niche in whichever industry they have the most experience in and are able to use this experience to deliver a huge amount of value to the people that they’re talking to.

The interesting thing about public speakers is that there are so many subcategories, of which motivational speakers are just one of them. Public speaking is also one of the most in-demand soft skills that employers look for, which is why it’s such a good idea to practice often and to take on any public speaking invitations that you receive.

At the same time, the fear of public speaking is also the world’s most common fear, ranking just above death, spiders, and heights. The key to being a successful public speaker is to recognize that fear and then overcome it.

What is a motivational speaker?

Motivational speakers generally focus their efforts on delivering a talk that inspires people to go out and take action. They can be found across all sorts of fields, from weight loss and fitness to publishing, healthcare and finance.

The core factor that all motivational speakers have in common is that their talks focus less on the imparting of knowledge and wisdom and more on boosting morale and giving people confidence. It’s less like a chemistry teacher explaining how atoms work and more like a football coach delivering a pep talk.

Motivational speakers typically use most of the same techniques that a public speaker uses, but they’re much more focused on helping to encourage people to do something than they are on explaining the steps they need to follow to get there.

Many conferences go out of their way to fill their line-up with a combination of public speakers and motivational speakers so that people leave with the practical know-how they need, as well as the inspiration that’s going to help them to go out and put that practical know-how into practice. What’s the difference between public speakers and motivational speakers?

The big difference between public speakers and motivational speakers is what they aim to get out of their oratory. Motivational speakers tend to mostly focus on inspiring people and encouraging them to try to do or accomplish something. Public speakers are usually more focused on imparting practical information.

It’s also important to acknowledge that motivational speakers are technically a subcategory of public speakers, in the same way that college lecturers are also technically a subcategory of public speakers. In other words, all motivational speakers are also public speakers, but not all public speakers are motivational speakers.

The good news is that both non-motivational public speakers and motivational speakers can learn from each other, and the tricks, tips, and techniques which work for one can also be used for the other. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise because we’ve already shown through our articles that public speakers can learn from a whole bunch of different sources, from books and movies to the way that people chat with their family and friends.

Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules around what makes someone a public speaker or a motivational speaker, and so while they can be quite useful as labels, we should also just think of them as a general guideline. If someone calls themselves a public speaker, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re not a motivational speaker and vice versa.


Now that you know a little more about the difference between public speakers and motivational speakers, you’re in a much better place to position yourself as an expert in your industry, whether you’re arranging events or whether you’re speaking at them.

A good place for you to start is to identify what kind of public speaker you are — or if you’re an event organizer, to think about the kinds of public speaker that you want to book. Are you looking for a motivational public speaker or a subject matter expert? And if you’re a public speaker yourself, where do you fit in the spectrum and what value do you provide to the people who book you?

And so as always, it’s time for us to hear from you. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments so that we can keep the discussion going, and feel free to let us know whether you consider yourself to be a public speaker or a motivational speaker. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon in another article!

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.



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