speech to crowd

10 examples of motivational speeches

By BBC Maestro

Whether you need to deliver a motivational speech and are looking for a little help in writing a rousing speech, or you need some inspiration in your personal and professional life, you can’t go wrong with watching a great motivational speech. 
But with so many options out there, which ones are worth a watch? Take a look we’re at our top picks of inspiring speeches to motivate and excite you.

Jim Carrey: Speech at Maharishi University of Management, 2014 

Several of the speeches on this list are commencement speeches – and for good reason. Graduating students are moving onto the next stage of life, which is a big step, full of uncertainty.  
A commencement speech offers the perfect opportunity for guidance, wise words – and Jim Carrey delivered it in spades during his speech at Maharishi University of Management in 2014. 
As you might expect from Carrey, he never misses an opportunity to crack a joke – but there are plenty of soft, sentimental moments, too. He encourages the graduating class not to fear what’s out there, but to be bold and “ask the universe” for what they dream of.  
Whatever your dreams are, Carrey implores, you should follow them – because even if you fail, it’s better than not trying at all. 

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action 

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk is one of the most popular ever, with over 62,000,000 views since it was released in 2009.  
In the talk, he explains his simple, yet powerful, model for inspirational leadership, focused on the Golden Circle which comprises three questions: “why?”, “what?” and “how?”. 
The talk is engaging, with plenty of real-life stories included to help make abstract concepts more concrete. But as well as being a motivational talk that’s a must-watch for business leaders, it’s notable for how it’s changed the face of business. 
Whereas in the past, business leaders often focused on what they did, the emphasis for many today is on the ‘why’. Starting with why they do what they do paves the path to success for customers, employees and overall business success. 

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability 

Being vulnerable is sometimes seen as a weakness. But Brené Brown argued in her 2010 TED Talk that shame about being vulnerable holds us back from experiencing true connections with others – and from finding joy and creativity. 
By telling personal anecdotes and speaking directly to the audience, Brown makes the audience feel like part of a community. The speech – and the ideas presented – not only resonated with the audience of that particular TED Talk, but with the millions of viewers who’ve watched it since and embraced having the courage to be vulnerable. 

Sylvester Stallone: ‘Beat you to your knees’ speech 

Fictional characters can deliver motivational speeches as well as any real-life person, and this one delivered by Sylvester Stallone in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa is one of the best examples out there. 
Rocky delivers a powerful message to his son, Robert, about the challenges he’ll face in life. Robert feels as though he’s overshadowed by his father’s famous name and accomplishments, while working in a job he doesn’t find fulfilling.  
But Rocky wants him to understand that the limitations he faces in life are self-imposed. He wants to remind him of the values that have shaped his own journey – hard work, determination, resilience and taking responsibility for his own life. 
Rocky hopes to inspire his son to embrace his own potential and take control of his future. Delivered with passion and gusto, the speech inspires not just Robert, but the film’s viewers as well. 

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die 

In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs shared his personal experiences and insights to encourage graduates to pursue their passions and take risks in life. 
He once heard a quote that said, “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right”. It made an impression on him, and he tried to live by that ethos – particularly so after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2004. 

He explained that: 
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” 
Jobs then went on to implore the graduating students to live life on their own terms, and not to let the opinions of others sway them. 

Michelle Obama: 2016 commencement speech 

Michelle Obama’s commencement speech to the 2016 class at City College of New York was her 23rd and last as First Lady. 
She celebrated the diversity of the graduating class and encouraged them to embrace that diversity and help build a more inclusive society, drawing on anecdotes from her own personal life and background. Their education would help them to do this, she explained. 
She also inspired the class to find their own individual ways to make a positive impact on the world, emphasising that even small actions can have a big impact.  
It was a motivating speech for the graduating class as they stepped out into the world, but it’s also a message that all of us reading the speech can take with us as we navigate day-to-day life. 

Al Pacino: ‘Inch by inch’ speech from Any Given Sunday 

In 1999 film Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino plays a veteran football coach named Tony D’Amato. In this famous speech from the film, Tony delivers a rousing message to his team about teamwork, perseverance and giving it your all. 
As you’d expect from Al Pacino, the monologue is delivered with power and passion, making the team – and viewers – sit up and take notice. 
But it’s not just applicable to football – the message resonates far beyond that. He talks passionately about how every minute counts, a motivational message that viewers can take into any area of their lives. 

David Foster Wallace: This is water 

The late author David Foster Wallace delivered a commencement speech in 2005 to the graduating class at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. It was since turned into a book titled ‘This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life’. 
In it, Wallace proposed to the students that our default mode of thinking is self-centred. He encouraged them to cultivate more awareness of the world around them and change the way we interact with others. 
He also challenged listeners to revaluate the daily grind. Instead of being dulled by the mundanity of everyday life, Wallace asked the class to recognise the beauty and complexity of routine and day-to-day life, finding mindfulness and intentionality in the mundane. 

These motivational speeches should give you plenty of food for thought. And if you need to write a speech of your own, overcome a fear of public speaking, or want to learn how to speak with confidence and charisma, take a look at Richard Greene’s BBC Maestro course, Public Speaking and Communication.

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