“How can I motivate my team when I speak?”

“How can you motivate your team more effectively?”

“How can I be more inspirational when I present?”

I am asked some semblance of these questions on a regular basis.  I see hundreds of motivational speeches every year.  Very few warrant a second look, even fewer a third. I have watched this speech over thirty times in the past week. The first 3:30 of this speech should be a staple in classrooms.

This is not an orthodox speech.  The delivery would not work in the boardroom. Much of the presentation is raw and there are significant grammatical issues.  There are improvements that Eric can implement to be even more effective.  So what is this speech, and what does it have to do with motivating your team or any audience)?

The speech is powerful, inspirational and memorable; and one of the best motivational speeches I have seen in some time.

There are lessons here that are applicable to presentations in any setting, and certainly usefull for speeches or presentations aimed at motivating your team, staff or audience:

1. Passion – If you are not convinced that Eric Thomas believes his message, watch again.  Passion comes barreling at you from the first ten seconds until the end.  It is difficult to move people without passion, and even more difficult to avoid being moved by someone as passionate as Eric;

2. Story – The story itself is riveting, and well timed. The story itself is no longer than a 30 second story; the delivery draws it out.  If you ever questioned the power of story in a speech, this should make you a believer.  A story does not have to be long to be effective;

3. Message – When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.  Everything Eric says relates back to his message;

4.  Audience – This presentation is perfectly geared toward capturing, and keeping, the target audience’s attention.  Know your audience and what the audience members will respond to;

5. Strategic Pause – Eric is emphatic and energetic throughout, and still effectively pauses before key lines;

6. Presence/Poise – There is no question who is center of the audience’s attention;

7. Rhetorical devices – Start with imagery, move to analogy, on to repetition and keep going;

8. Personalization – This speech is addressed to an audience, and at the same time the individual.  Very effective;

9. Tone/Intonation/Rhythm/Pitch Variety – This speech would be completely different without the vocal toolkit used;

10. Call to Action – Crystal clear.  A motivational speech should focus on….motivating to action!  This one does.

11. Body Language – I am not a believer that there are  rigid rules that apply to how to hold your hands, position yourself, etc. that work for every person presenting in every situation.   We are all individuals, and what works for nearly everyone else may not work for you – hence the need to determine what your presenting style is, and what works for you.  I have never witnessed a speech where I found pointing to be an asset – always the opposite – until watching this speech.  Pointing does not work for 99.9% of the speaking public – but in this situation, it works for Eric.  Learn what works for you – before you present.

12. Movement – Eric moves a lot, and is part of his audience throughout the presentation – no barriers – he is literally part of his audience.   Engaging your audience is crucial, and one of the best ways to engage is to get as close to your audience as possible.  Your presentation is a conversation, and the more you active you

Some backstory – Eric Thomas is a former high school dropout who is now a professor at Michigan State University, and is also the founder of The Advantage Program, an undergraduate retention program targeting academically high-risk students of color.

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