Plus Size Motivational Speaker?

As a motivational speaker I get asked for a lot of advice. Here is the latest “Dear Kelly” question:

Dear Kelly,

I’m a motivational speaker too, and my friend is mad at me because I won’t run a 5k with her. She said, “How dare you call yourself a motivational speaker, and you won’t run a 5k with me!”  Does the fact that I don’t want to run a 5k mean I don’t have the right to be a motivational speaker?

Confused and Now Not So Motivated in NC


Dear Confused,

You raise an important question. Should motivational speakers practice what they preach? And the answer is YES! It should always be yes. But even motivational speakers aren’t perfect (I know, who knew?) – and so we won’t always get it right because perfection doesn’t exist in us.  So if I speak about standing up and sticking out in a crowded market (which I do) then I should have some experience in that area, and be constantly striving to do that myself. Does that mean I will be the perfect example? No. Does it mean that I have mastered it and can move on? No. It means I’m striving to be authentic in my talk and my walk.

Some people out there have decided that if a motivational speaker is not perfect, then they are a fraud. You may look at me and say that I’m not an authentic motivational speaker because I am plus sized. How funny that I talk about motivation and can’t motivate myself to stop eating Ho-Ho’s. I can see how your mind would go in that direction. But I don’t think this discounts me as a motivator one bit. EVEN if I were motivating you to lose weight! Hang tight with me here while I explain. If I were a health speaker talking about the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, then my appearance would be in direct conflict with my message. But my message is about doing things that make you stand out – it’s about being moving beyond your comfort zone – it’s about taking risks in life – it’s about helping you have the courage to do the things YOU are motivated to do, whether it’s losing weight or writing a book. That doesn’t mean that I need to take every risk or do everything you are trying to do in order to be authentic in my message. If I always played it safe, never did anything out of the ordinary – then, yes, call me a fraud. But don’t tell me I have no right to encourage and empower you because I’m not the size you want me to be.

And let’s just pretend that your friend is right. Then what about the friend who wants you to climb Mt. Everest? If you say no does that mean you are not a good motivational speaker? What about the friend who wants you to write a book with her? Or the friend who wants you to try out for the lead in the community theater?  Or the one who wants you to invest all your money in her iguana farm? How dare you turn them down and call yourself a motivational speaker!

The point here is that you find the motivation to do the things YOU WANT TO DO – the things that align with YOUR GOALS AND VISIONS – the items on YOUR LIST. Not someone else’s. That is true courage. Life is not about being motivated to do everything – even if others have decided this should be important to you. Last time I checked, this was a free world, and we are all entitled to pursue our own happiness.

Now tell me that you don’t do what you teach people to do – and this conversation would have taken a different turn – and I would have questioned the fact that you make a living motivating people, yet don’t ever follow your own advice. I don’t expect you to always get it right, but I do expect you to always be trying – or you should be seeking another career.

Much love,

Kelly The Plus Size Motivational Speaker





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.
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Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. Bravo Ms. Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson! Couldn’t agree more. Practicing what you preach and doing something simply to win the approval of another are two very different situations. Keep speaking your truth….it’s wonderful and refreshing.

  2. Stay the course. Don’t let anyone dictate your vision. As a funny motivational speaker, you know what fits you.

  3. You have clarified an often misunderstood presumption about motivational speakers Kelly.  Just because I speak on eating healthy and exercising doesn’t mean that I don’t love a junky food splurge once in a while or that I like running.  I do practice what I preach but like you and everyone else, we’re not perfect and we’re always striving to improve…one serving of fruit at a time!

  4. Hey Kelly – I was just having this conversation today about this very topic!  You have summized it perfectly here.  No one wants to be a fraud or a hypocrite or incongruous, especially this motivational speaker!  Thanks for another insightful post!

  5. Good on ya!  It surely can be easy for people to look at some mythical standard of perfection – especially for motivational speakers.   Thank you for helping to set the record straight!

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