How to Give a Motivational Talk on a Boring Topic

motivational keynote speaker for insurance conferenceMany events feature talks on boring industry topics - daunting for people on both sides of the microphone!

I have to agree; some content is plain boring. Segregated funds, insurance plans, health trusts, it's tough to make some content captivating. Many leadership speakers have to speak on dead boring topics that make audience members want to rip their eyebrows out to stay awake.

Never fear, even dull content can be motivating.  I think all talks should be motivational. Otherwise, what's the point? If your not compelling people to do something or learn something, what are you trying to do?

A motivational speech is geared to motivate people with practical ideas and solutions. The goal is to get people to do things differently, understand concepts, or use specific solutions. Given this definition, every talk is motivational.​ 

One of the mistakes industry guest speakers make is they overwhelm people with content and forget they need to motivate people towards action. Inspiring people means you want them to do something different, and you need to be clear on what that is.​

Here's how a guest speaker can ​make a​ talk​ motivational on any​ boring topic:

Present only information that is interesting to your audience.

Most boring guest speakers overwhelm their speech with too much detail and unnecessary, superfluous information. Only about 10% of what you think you need to say needs to be said.

Studies show that we only retain two or three ideas from any session, so eliminate unnecessary information. It just serves to confuse people.

Audiences are smart and resourceful; they can look details up. The only information you need to provide is the information to get them interested so that they WANT to look up details.  The guest speaker should motivate the audience toward the speech objective. Do not include anything else! To plan your motivational talk, ask yourself, What points do you need to make to reach your speech objective? Facts, details, stories that support this objective are the only things relevant to your talk.



Never underestimate the power that stories and humor have to engage an audience. Always include stories and analogies to drive your point home. They are positively memorable, and an inspirational or motivational speaker wants to be significant, undoubtedly. 

​K​eynote speaker​s​ for an insurance conference told a story about a client who​ bought a new car for his fiance but​ refused insurance; she ​got in a car accident, and l​they ​ost everything (very sad, but motivational towards his speech objective, to buy insurance).



A guest speaker at an industry event is an expert, but be aware that​ in​ elite specialized audiences, so is everybody else. Please do not preach to them, or they will loathe you. 

Instead, aim for a warm, interactive approach. Ask open-ended questions of audience members  "What is your experience with third-party payors who refuse to pay?" ...which likely will bring nervous laughter. Or ask closed-ended questions that require delegates to raise their hands. ​This simple action quickly involves people.

​If you are struggling to engage a dead crowd, have the audience work with a partner or a small group on a particular dilemma or question.

If all else fails, gently poke fun at ​yourself or challenges in your industry. People relate to commonalities. Laughing at yourself makes you more relatable and human.

​You can also lightly poke fun at someone in the audience to break the ice (pick these people in advance and be very careful). If you are bombing in your motivational speech, the tension in the room is fertile grounds for humor!



​If you want to motivate people, you need to be excited about your topic and your content. If you seem bored or distracted while you speak, the audience will get agitated. ​The audience's energy mimics the speaker; if you are energetic and engaged, the audience will follow. 

More energy means more learning and a more motivational talk.

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