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Sir, Are you a Motivational Speaker?

Published: May 25th, 2019 11:32 pmBy Jayaram Ramachandran

Interesting conversation I had with a potential client who called me out of the blue. Here’s how it went…


Good evening sir, my name is Ai (named masked). I work for ….Training outfit in Mumbai. Sir are you a Motivational speaker?

Me: Ai, where did you get my reference from?

Ai: Sir from one of your blog-sites and also from someone who knows you and gave reference. My boss asked me to call you up if you are a Motivational speaker. Sir are you a motivational speaker?

Me: I am a speaker but don’t know if it is motivating to the audience…. That’s for them to decide, isn’t it Ai?

Ai: Sir, but we want to have a motivational speaker for 1 hour for a large group. We are a training organization and we have been asked to organize this as part of their engagement task for a reputed MNC company in Mumbai in June.


I fathomed the trends of happenings in HR these days. The HR Executive has a task to tick one engagement activity for June. He/She puts a Training Aggregator on the job; this outfit scouts around from amongst several motivational speakers available, and recommends to the company.


I went on to explain to Ai the process I follow as a speaker. I use slides sporadically. I do not use concepts or models. I love to involve the audience as I speak. I speak on Leadership and Change and my examples are based on rustic Indian mortals which includes a street Panwala, an Indian mother, a bus conductor, house maid, palm of your hand etc.… each of whom have enough evidence of super human Leadership but sadly rust in oblivion!    


Ai: Sir can you speak on Emotional Intelligence with relevance to IQ and the brain theory…….bla…bla…..(went on). I sensed she was sincerely rooting her client’s brief , meticulously, as noted down by her.


Me: Are you seeking a Trainer or a motivational speaker?

Ai: Sir, Motivational Speaker. But the theme is what I said

Me: Ai, I don’t speak on this topic. Perhaps what you are seeking is not a motivational speaker but an expert in areas relating to REBT and other related areas of psychology.

Ai: Sir we have a fixed fee that we pay for this.

Me: Ai, but I don’t charge for such programmes

Ai: Oh… Ok.. Sir…hmm..yes sir

(Was that a sigh of relief or a shock? Couldn’t comprehend !!!)


I recognized Ai was duty-bound. There was a mandate to be completed for a client. The client had given Ai a Theme and set her on the job. Ai’s boss put her on the ‘speaker hunting mission’. The monthly tick on task completion for June was important for both, Ai and client.

I explained to her the difference between a Motivational Speaker who is invited to talk and a subject expert who is called with specific objective of giving knowledge. Motivational speakers generally take liberty in speaking on themes, experiences, success stories, examples of their choice which can boost people’s morale’. A subject expert on the other hand, is a masterpractioner, shares his experience, knowledge, themes, models, concepts, case studies, and examples, to a specific group of impacted people for whom it matters and not en-mass to all and sundry in the organization. He may or may not be motivating or inspiring but he may have greater knowledge to share with specific objective than a conventional ‘Motivational Speaker’.   


Ai Got it, this time !!! And I lost the race for Speaking!

Sad, even Motivating people has become a monthly ticking ritual.

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