Do You Really Motivate? Take This Test!

So you call yourself a leader – or a manager – a great friend – or even a motivational speaker. Whether the title was given or self-appointed, are you walking your talk? Are you delivering when they order motivation? Do you even know what they want? Calling yourself a motivator and actually being one, are two very different things. Manipulating and motivating are not the same. Educating and inspiring are not the same. Talking about you is not talking about me. High energy and a smile is not motivation. Motivation is not something you stumble upon – it’s something you practice with intent. So do you motivate? Do you inspire? Let’s put you to the test!

1. Do you really care more about them than getting your own way? Do you care more about how they feel than just delivering your information and showing them what you can do? It starts with a genuine concern for the other person over yourself. You can’t fake this. It’s not just an on-the-stage thing, it’s an everywhere thing. One sign that you are an effective motivator, is that you find yourself doing it everywhere – not just when you’re paid for it. If you aren’t encouraging behind the scenes, I question how encouraging you are on the scene. And if you think an audience can’t sniff out when you’re not genuine – you are wrong.

2. Do you really know what life is like from where they sit? Have you bothered to find out? To even ask the slightest question? Do you step into their shoes and see life from their perspective? Or are you so convinced you are right, that you feel it is not necessary?

3. How often do you talk about them instead of yourself? How many times are you using “I” instead of “you”? Do you even know? Or are you just “winging” it? How do you make your story about them?

4. How do people feel about themselves after having spent time with you? (Not how they feel about you – how they feel about themselves.) And how do you know? If you make an impact, they will tell you. If they are not telling you, you aren’t.

5. Do you expect them to do the work instead of you? Sure, motivation falls on the beholder, but if you think just because you have something great to teach them and that should count as motivation, you are wrong. Educating and motivating are not the same thing. We can get content without ever leaving our home computer – and probably even better content than yours. Motivation is about the encouragement factor. It’s the part where you show them that they can do this too. Where you help them see past their objections and obstacles and excuses. And this is not something you do by accident. It’s something you plan and script and rewrite and practice.

6. How’s your love language?  Are you good at giving sincere compliments? Do you take the time and energy to notice people and make them feel good? Are you in the hallways and the back of the room, hugging necks and laughing with strangers – or are you hiding out in a dressing room checking your emails? Do you save your love for the stage, or do you bring it out in the parking lot? Do you head straight for the popular kids’ table, seeking out the most important person in the room? Or are you sitting with the people nobody notices? Are you looking for ways to make someone feel good, or are you looking for ways to get compliments?

7. Do people do what you want them to do because you told them to? Or do they do it because they WANT to? The key to getting people to do what you want them to do, is finding a way to make them want to do it for themselves. Are you connecting your goal with their goal? Your dream with theirs? Are you confusing what motivates you with what motivates them? Do you even know what motivates them? Are you lumping them all into the same category? What motivates the business owner is not the same thing that motivates the customer service rep.

So obviously motivating others is not as simple as you would think – which explains why so many are calling themselves motivators, and not walking their talk.  I don’t think it’s because they are mean (though some are), but that many have the desire to motivate, and the genuine concern for their audience – they just haven’t figured out how to translate that into words that actually do inspire and motivate. If you did great on this test, then I applaud you and challenge you to go even further. I believe that motivating people has no boundaries. If you failed this test, there is still hope for you – plenty of hope. Motivating and encouraging people does not require a big budget or a degree – just the heart. I know you can do it. I believe in you. Now I need you to believe in yourself.

(PS  Some people think that motivation is fluff. If you can motivate people, it will help you in these areas:  achieving your dreams, communication skills, selling more effectively, delivering remarkable customer service, forming stronger teams, leading with impact, getting more out of your employees, creating happier relationships, raising money, rallying for a cause, getting more likes on your facebook page………I could go on, but I’m just not motivated to keep talking.)


Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
To book motivational speaker Kelly Swanson:
Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. Wow Kelly! I’m motivated to have you deliver a break-out session at NSA on what a motivational speaker really looks and sounds like. YOU! I’m taking the test…….

  2. Thank you, Colette. And you don’t need to even take the test. The entire time I was writing that blog post I was thinking of you (and Linda too) – of how motivating others just oozes out of you. You walk around bringing out the best in other people. So amazing from someone so beautiful, who I was just sure would be shallow. But you’re not. You are kind through and through. So no matter what you choose to teach, I know it is wrapped in a genuine sincerity and concern for that listener – and a heart to encourage them and help them find their truth. That is your truth. And you are walking it one hundred percent. The world is blessed to have you in it.

  3. Thanks for sharing this blog Kelly – although I wish you were thinking of me too when you wrote it! :)  I always like walking around and meeting people in my audiences before going on stage.  I even tell the meeting planner not to wait for me to come to the front before starting because I’ll just keep meeting people in the back until they are ready to start and I come up.  I meet such fascinating people before and after I speak and I’m always encouraged by their courage to share their hopes, dreams, and challenges.  Thanks for this test!  Great reminder about what we are all about.

  4. So sorry Marilyn! The only reason I thought of Colette and Linda first, was because they helped me in the beginning – they reached out – and I have been forever grateful. I know that you are encouraging and motivating too. Now you’re in my mind too. :)

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