Getting Motivated about Motivation? I Don’t Think So!

Many of you know that I am a 12-year member of the National Speakers Association and a Past President of the North Texas Chapter.  Therefore, I run in circles with all types of speakers, including the highly-paid keynote style.

I found this point interesting in a article published last year in Meetings and Conventions magazine (July 1, 2010).  Key subscribers to the magazine are meeting planners, who often have the responsibility to book keynote speakers for conventions, annual meetings, and other large-scale events.

The article noted that motivational messages are among the most appropriate keynote categories.  Of the 116 meeting planners who responded, 69 percent say an uplifting speech is highly appropriate for their groups.  Also popular are industry-related topics, cited by 62 percent, future trends (47 percent) and humor (41 percent).

Why is this of interest to me?  Because the factors that have actually motivated workers has been consistent for more than 25 years.  And, “feeling motivated” is not in the list.

Beginning in the mid-’80s, lists of “what motivates employees” started to include items such as:  feeling “in” on things, doing work that matters, and being recognized for a job well done.  Pay slipped from the # 1 spot, and has consistently fallen below items such as those that I listed in the previous sentence.

So, what I don’t get is why do people want to hear motivating messages as their # 1 topic from a keynote speaker, rather than about content or process items that actually motivate them on the job?  If people are motivated by content or process items in the jobs that they do, then why would they not want to hear about those items from keynote speakers?

I will admit to you that this is close.  Notice that industry-related topics (62%) and future trends (47%) are not far from motivation (69%).  Yet, motivation remains at the top.

I personally find that motivational messages have a “glow.”  You feel good after it is over, but  it wears off quickly.  And, I never seem to feel the same again.   When I hear messages with tangible content, at least I have some knowledge of what to do, how to do it, and so forth.  It really doesn’t matter how I feel, or if I am motivated about it – I know where to find it, and what it is.

How about you?  Are you surprised by this finding?  What do you think about motivational messages?

Let’s talk about it!

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