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Scam-Fighter File - Those Darned Motivational Speakers

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Scam-Fighter File - Those Darned Motivational Speakers By Robert Bacal, M.A.

The training and motivational speaker industry is a strange one where, in some cases, huge amounts of money are paid for minimal amounts of time and zero results. For more on organizational learning, motivational speakers and training visit The Training and Development Free Resource Center

They stand tall in the saddle, and they ride in on white horses announcing to one and all they can change people's lives. Or at least boost their levels of motivation to get work done. Sometimes quirky, almost always charismatic, and proclaiming themselves as gurus, experts or even geniuses, they are the motivational speakers who travel around, getting huge dollars from companies to magically tweak their employees. And beyond a day or two at best, they contribute almost nothing to the organization except to lighten the corporate bank account.

There's two kinds of motivational speakers. One type you should stay away from like the plague, while the other CAN contribute to your organization. The first type is the rah-rah, light a fire under 'em kind. With little to say except fancy sound-bytes, and exhortations, the worst of these can talk for an hour and say almost nothing. People who attend these sessions may come away slightly energized, but if you ask them what they learned, they'll look at you blankly, because these sessions don't promote learning, or solving problems. Entertaining, yes. Useful, not really.

The second type of motivational speaker is also entertaining (one would hope), but adds another dimension to the presentation. Content. Content based motivational speakers not only energize but also have something to say apart from the rah-rah kind of thing. They present ideas, solutions to problems. They also tend to be people who don't call themselves experts, or gurus, and let the audiences decide whether they are those things.

If you are looking for someone to do an energizing presentation, look for the person who has something to say. The prospective speaker should be able to tell you what people will learn from the session, and how they might be able to use that learning at work. If the speaker can't tell you, then you should look elsewhere.

And if you want straight entertainment, hire a local comedian. It's probably cheaper, and won't create any false expectations about what people attending will get out of it.

One more thing. If your prospective speaker self-proclaims as a guru, expert, or genius look elsewhere. The "real deal" speakers, who will add something to your organization don't have to give themselves exhaulted labels. Their clients know how good they are, and real deal speakers are confident enough in their own abilities that they don't have to throw it in people's faces.

About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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  • Training sessions should ALWAYS be customized to fit YOUR context.
  • Our role is to make you self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
  • Fees should be reasonable, fair, and flexible to fit different budgets.
  • The only way to further success is to challenge the existing "wisdom" through critical thinking and basing our services and books on a complex reality.

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  • Casselman
  • Ontario
  • Canada, K0A 1M0