Do Motivational Speakers Truly Benefit Youth?

Ask any youth what they loved about a certain motivational speaker, and odds are they will tell you it was a certain story.
It’s often the influences around us that impact our actions, especially at a young age.

Youth need and want to be influenced by things and people that inspire them to make the positive decisions they struggle making. How can motivational speakers help? Well, for one, it has to be a good motivational speaker.

Here are some benefits that effective motivational speakers bring to youth events:

Know the Language – It’s true that there aren’t many new ideas, only repackaged ones; however, it’s also true that youth culture is constantly changing. What was a funny catch phrase five to ten years ago isn’t today. For example, jokes like “that’s what she said,” and “your mom,” although still inappropriate, aren’t funny. Even more noteworthy Facebook’s August 2015 study revealed that “LOL (laughing out loud),” is not considered funny or cool to use anymore. Only 1.9% of users still use it. If that’s you, well you’re old, relatively speaking. Instead youth use emojis and “haha,” or “hehe.” Now, you can fake your age.

Authenticity – Building on the previous point, it’s important to know the language, but that doesn’t mean you have to speak it. Youth have an amazing ability to detect authenticity. If you are a 40-year-old speaking to a group of 1,000 high schoolers, and you’re trying to act 16-years-old again, you will get caught and punished. Now, if that’s just how you act you probably won’t be punished, because they will know that although something has seriously went wrong in your maturation process, you’re authentic. Part of authenticity is resisting the urge to be someone you’re not, while at the same time, not assuming you know who they are and “what they’re going through.”  

Spoonful of Sugar – Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from having sugar, I will dare to say 99% of humans like sugar. Mary Poppins knew this when she said, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Youth need the message the speaker is delivering, but they want in served with a spoonful of humor and emotion. Humor is like trying to get a girl to like you. The harder you try, the less they like you. Obviously, that’s not completely true, but it’s partly true. This goes back to authenticity. Youth can tell if you’re trying too hard, and they don’t like that. Great speakers use the humor that is natural to them, bring in humor from impromptu interaction, and make fun of themselves for good measure. Like most Americans, youth want to be moved with laughter, brought to the edge of tears, and left with a feeling of “Booyah!” (FYI that phrase isn’t popular anymore either.)

The Power of Stories – Ask any youth what they loved about a certain motivational speaker, and odds are they will tell you it was a certain story. Humans are captured by stories, and that’s why we love certain movies, books, and especially reality shows. It’s the story that sticks with us. It’s the story that moves us. It’s the story that helps us connect the message to our own life. Don’t get me wrong you can certainly tell bad stories that are too long, too short, too boring, too dramatic, and too “What’s the point of this story?” But, never underestimate the power of a story and impact it can have on youth. I recommend everyone has certain personal stories ready to deliver in a certain situation that a certain someone might need to hear. Why? Stories stick.

Effective motivational speakers benefit youth because they give them what they need (inspiration, courage, wisdom) with a spoonful of what they want (humor and emotion).

So, do motivational speakers truly benefit youth? If their message has these ingredients, you can bet your budget dollars they do.


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