There are plenty of self styled gurus out there who claim they can help you, or your team, become happier, more productive and more motivated if you read their books or hear their presentations. Of course, there are also a lot of people out there who claim to be Nigerian princes who want to give you a unique chance to get rich. Many people are sceptical about how much value a professional coach or speaker can offer, and others dismiss any form of self help as ‘mumbo jumbo’. However, there are plenty of highly acclaimed, well respected people who have gone from successful careers in business and other fields into speaking and self help writing, and the most credible ones have legions of people who claim they have been helped by their wisdom and experience. So, can motivational lectures and self help really change your life?
Choosing the Right Speaker is Key
Whether you are considering attending a seminar as an individual, or you are thinking about hiring someone to come in and help motivate your team at work, it is crucial to pick the right person if you want to see any benefit. This doesn’t just mean that you need someone who is well respected and has good credentials, but also someone whose area is right. ‘Motivation’ is a broad term, and there is no point having a speaker, however effective, who tends to work with entrepreneurs come in and talk to your work force – if he does his job well, your staff will all leave and start their own companies! Equally, if your goal is to become better at managing stress and dealing with things in your personal life, a speaker who focuses on career and money won’t necessarily help you too much. There are very good people working in all kinds of fields, but you need to know what your own goals are or what the objectives of bringing a speaker in to your team are before you can pick one. If you choose someone from an unsuitable field, then you may well come away feeling like you didn’t get anything out of it, even if the speaker is great when working with people who are in tune with their area of expertise.
Leave Cynicism and Negativity Behind
One way to make sure you are open to getting the most benefit from motivational speakers is to ensure you aren’t going into it with a cynical attitude. If you are thinking ‘I will see what he has to say but I’m sure it will be nonsense’, or ‘this might work for some people but my problems are too big’, then you are already shutting yourself off from the message. Even an apathetic ‘it’s worth a try’ attitude can stand in the way. If you decide to do it, think of it as a commitment to do something positive, which will at the very least expose you to some interesting new ideas. Listen, pay attention, and if you find that it isn’t for you by the end of it, then you have at least given it its best shot at working to help you.
James Alderley is a business blogger and former senior manager from the tech industry. He has used professional speakers in a number of teams he has worked in to help change staff approaches and boost enthusiasm ahead of major projects.