Author Topic: Public Motivational Speakers In General  (Read 3310 times)

TheGrimSqueaker

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Public Motivational Speakers In General
« on: August 05, 2016, 09:24:32 AM »
Lately I've been running into people who are pursuing degrees in a new field called "communications", because apparently the life skills of conversation, clear writing, and basic oratory are not something people learn as they go. The goal most of these young people express is to become a professional motivational speaker and change other people's lives.

Exactly why other people's lives need changing isn't quite clear to me. Is this really a thing?

I understand signing up for a seminar on something you want to learn, which might be anything from a time management technique to a class on how to correctly install flooring. I also understand wanting to go hear someone like Larry Winget because he's just that entertaining. But how many motivational speakers or public speakers can a nation's economy really support? Is it education, or entertainment, or both?

Should we perhaps call it "edutainment"?

I'm told there's a circuit of some kind, with different speakers coming to town for different things, but half of them seem to be hawking a real estate mentoring service and a good third are politicians angling for lobbying grease. There are also a lot of people who "umm" and "you know" their way through a ten minute TED talks but deliver about sixty seconds of content, are applauded for it and E-fellated on social media as though they'd just delivered the modern equivalent of the Gettysburg Address. If we set aside all of those people, how many are actually delivering content?

How many actually have something to say, such that it's worth paying to listen? I'd really only consider listening to people who have accomplished something that I want to do, or who have discovered something new, or who have overcome a major challenge of some sort. Dissertation presentation: good. Rah-rah real estate session with a book pitch at the end: less so.

Maybe I'm just being more of a snob than usual. But of all the aspiring speakers I've met so far, there's only one young man whose life I consider to be motivational. He was born with what most people would consider to be severe disabilities, but has worked around them in a very impressive way and it's given him some very unique insights into human nature. I truly believe he's walked the walk and is already an authority on overcoming adversity. That gives him a story worth sharing and also insights that have allowed him to truly help other people in the past. For this reason, he's already a minor media celebrity in the town where he lives. I'm pretty sure he could make it as a motivational speaker for these reasons. I've got a ton of respect for this kid. The others? Not so much.

Is this wave of communications majors a new thing? I don't remember that it really existed as a field of study back when I was an undergraduate, but of course back then if you wanted to write an essay draft on a "tablet" you had to bring your own chisel and hammer.

slugline

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2016, 09:57:30 AM »
Communications as a field of study has been around for a fairly long time. It was the major of study for college students hoping to break into radio, television and other mass media. And now I imagine they look at YouTube stars and other Internet sensations.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 10:00:24 AM by slugline »

runningthroughFIRE

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2016, 11:03:35 AM »
I've seen it mainly as a stereotypical joke for "dumb jocks on scholarship" to major in.  Realistically I'd say its a lighter version of an IT/Marketing degree hybrid with hopefully maybe some psychology or sociology built in.

Most of the youtube, twitch, etc. internet personalities I'm familiar with did it just by being themselves and doing it consistently.  No fancy degree required.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2016, 11:24:32 AM »
I have never met anyone who expressed a personal desire to make a living as a motivational speaker. I certainly don't think that's the primary goal of most communications majors.

LiveLean

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2016, 11:27:06 AM »
I've worked in the media for 25 years and for a couple of semesters I taught communications classes -- i.e. reporting, writing -- at one of the nation's largest mass communications programs. This was during the "Sex and the City" era on HBO. Most of my students were women majoring in PR/communications who didn't understand why they were required to write anything. As far as they were concerned, they were going to be PR types -- having long lunch meetings, happy hours and lots of sex.

plog

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2016, 02:39:46 PM »
Degree in Communications in 1996 here.  So, yeah, been around for a bit. Here's my experience:

In those olden times everyone streamed music through a device called a radio and paid a former convict to drive by their house every morning and throw rolled pieces of paper in their driveway so they could find out what happened in the world the prior day.  If you wanted to be involved in either of those industries you needed a degree--that degree was Communications.   Then, as with any degree, there were people who got the degree just so they could teach the degree.  There was also a set of people under that major who (god knows why) aspired to be in HR or an Admin Assistant and got a degree in 'Organizational Communication' which was basically a Business Degree Lite.

Looking at this graph NPR compiled, seems like Communication degrees have held steady since the early 80's:

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/05/09/310114739/whats-your-major-four-decades-of-college-degrees-in-1-graph 

Making Cookies

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2016, 09:09:07 AM »
Love that graph.

Would be nice if there was a similar graph that lists people employed in each field. Might be 81,000 graduates but what's the employment stats like for a particular career choice?

BlueHouse

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2016, 10:32:09 AM »
We had communications courses in my high school back in the 80s.  Seemed to be where people went if they wanted to become journalists. I wish they had made it mandatory for everyone. 

LOVE that graph!  Have never seen data compiled like that.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 10:34:36 AM by BlueHouse »

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2016, 11:16:14 AM »
Love that graph.

Would be nice if there was a similar graph that lists people employed in each field. Might be 81,000 graduates but what's the employment stats like for a particular career choice?

One of the Comm majors I know plans to go into nonprofit administration. She's taking courses in things like grant writing. I think she'll do extremely well and a few charities are already sniffing around waiting for her to graduate. She's not the one I'm worried about. Neither is the guy I mentioned who's walked the walk.

The rest of the folks who want to be motivational speakers "to change people's lives" or "to give them a breakthrough", though? I'm meeting too many of them lately. One was pumping gas for a living. Another was waiting tables. Both were trying to peddle themselves as career advisors or personal coaches. The bullshit aroma was strong.

Chris22

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2016, 11:42:46 AM »
Communications was our default "MRS" degree* at my alma mater.  A lot of our grads went to PR, advertising, or pharma drug sales (the hot ones).  At my current office we have I think 3 communications people, doing various types of things from putting out internal announcements to running town halls to coordinating advertising (I don't work in a consumer products company so advertising is a little different from the norm). 




*don't get mad

Making Cookies

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2016, 12:02:37 PM »
Love that graph.

Would be nice if there was a similar graph that lists people employed in each field. Might be 81,000 graduates but what's the employment stats like for a particular career choice?

One of the Comm majors I know plans to go into nonprofit administration. She's taking courses in things like grant writing. I think she'll do extremely well and a few charities are already sniffing around waiting for her to graduate. She's not the one I'm worried about. Neither is the guy I mentioned who's walked the walk.

The rest of the folks who want to be motivational speakers "to change people's lives" or "to give them a breakthrough", though? I'm meeting too many of them lately. One was pumping gas for a living. Another was waiting tables. Both were trying to peddle themselves as career advisors or personal coaches. The bullshit aroma was strong.

I've met one recently too. My thought was how does one teach success if they can't find it for themselves? Of course teaching the seminars are supposed to deliver the success to them first but so far... The FIRE/frugality ideas shared here are the only "ideas" that have resonated with me in recent times. The rest are like listening to salesmen whose shtick is thick with empty language.

sneeds

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2016, 12:16:11 PM »
I graduated with a BA in Communications in 2004 and have had a good career working in public relations and corporate communications for B2B IT/tech companies ever since. In my experience, the coursework for a communications degree is heavily focused on a lot of writing. Most communications majors end up working in journalism, broadcast communications (TV/radio), public relations and marketing. The field of journalism has transformed radically over the past decade, but there are great career prospects in publication relations, marketing and corporate communications fields, as most companies employ people in all those areas.

Digital Dogma

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2016, 01:37:13 PM »
I've been to a manager bootcamp training session in the past few years and I've got to say the one part that really helped me learn the most was the public speaking portion. There were two very outgoing, motivated speakers who guided us through the exercise, we were to come up with a 5 minute presentation and preform in front of the corporate executives who could make it. Between the preparation, presentation, affectation, timing, pace, tone, and content I learned how to better multi-task under (precieved, not actual) high pressure social situations.

I'm not a natural performer, add more people to the mix and it doesn't help my stress level. It totally KILLS some people inside to confront a scenario where they need to present in front of an unfamiliar group. What I saw in those two motivational speakers was a complete command over their body language and messages, and the ability to disarm a crowd with their performance, that is a very valuable skill to have let alone teach to others. I learned more from that session than the entire 5 days of BS before that combined.

MgoSam

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Re: Public Motivational Speakers In General
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2016, 01:45:26 PM »
I'm a fairly good public speaker but I've been looking for a Toastmasters that's nearby to help become a better communicator. I might need to travel out of my way to make it work.