Motivational speakers have moved audiences for millenia. But the digital era has created a golden age of public speakers never seen before.
When the first Ted Talks were posted online in 2006, relatively few people had heard of them. Within just 3 months, they reached more than a million viewers. Speaker websites, social media and easier means of hiring keynote speakers provided new and exciting platforms for top talent. Let’s pay tribute to 10 of the best from this exciting and ongoing era.
No professional speaker’s name is more synonymous with motivation than Deepak Chopra. Associated with New Age idealism, his holistic, metaphysical worldview has inspired millions with nearly 100 published books including The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. A highly in-demand personality to this day, he has earned the Toastmasters International Top Five Outstanding Speakers award as well as a Carnegie award for great immigrants.
Mel Robbins became a best-selling author of both The High 5 Habit and The 5 Second Rule for a reason. It’s in her uncanny ability to bring the same personal, uplifting and useful advice to print and audio as she brings to her keynote addresses. The talk show host offers a practical, science-based approach to her motivational speeches, serving clinical professionals as well as top brands such as JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft. When it comes to inspiring organizational transformation, Robbins earns her place among the top motivational speakers of all time.
Considered by many an early architect of the modern motivational speaking movement, Bob Proctor was also a renowned self-help author. He believed that positive self-image plays a critical role in success. This view carried over into his numerous books including The Secret Science of Getting Rich and Change Your Paradigm, Change Your Life. He became one of the most in-demand speakers for corporate seminars across North America. Canadian-born Proctor passed away in 2022 at age 87, but his influence will last for generations.
Resilience expert Anne Grady takes a scientific and compassionate approach to helping others stay strong and motivated. A two-time TEDx speaker, Grady has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as nonprofits to build resilience and improve performance among managers and teams. Her speaking style flawlessly interweaves humor, inspiration and hard truths, making this Mind over Moment author one of the most truly inspiring motivational speakers available today.
If you use Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re probably familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk. This serial entrepreneur and motivational speaker earned his place as a master of social media and one of the most influential personalities across platforms. A five-time best-selling author, his works include Twelve and a Half and Crushing It! This prolific and dynamic speaker has also been named by BusinessWeek as one of the 20 people every entrepreneur should follow.
Staying motivated during tough times challenges even the top business leaders. Motivational speaker, entrepreneur and television personality Daymond John excels at keeping you focused and on track. This Shark Tank host founded and serves as CEO of The Shark Group, a brand management and consulting firm. His own early business challenges inform his keynote address with a stated goal to “help you avoid making the same costly mistakes that I’ve made.” John has also authored numerous books to keep you on track including Rise and Grind and The Brand Within.
Prior to his passing in 2015, motivational speaker Zig Ziglar spoke at events alongside presidents and prime ministers. He also served as a sales coach and entrepreneur, bringing a deeply-rooted ethical take to his business approach. One of the most-quoted keynote speakers of all time, his religious roots played out in his caring for others. His more than 30 published books include Sell Your Way to the Top and Goals: How to Get the Most Out of Your Life.
Profundity does not need to be complicated. Eckhart Tolle provides a simple yet enlightening keynote experience, guiding listeners to lead a more fulfilled life through inner peace. A highly sought speaker worldwide, he can reach audiences in German and Spanish as well as in English. He also authored the best-seller The Power of Now and A New Earth, both of which are renowned for their spiritually-driven motivational influence.
Former state congressperson of Ohio Les Brown implores his audiences to stop and tell themselves, “I have greatness within me.” Reaching audiences of up to 80,000, he also coaches Fortune 500 CEOs, small business owners and not-for-profit companies with his positive message of personal success and corporate growth. He has a particular gift for finding commonalities among us, allowing him to reach audiences regardless of background or nationality. His best-selling books include You’ve Got to Be Hungry and The Greatness Within You.
Karen M. Allen
No motivational speaker list is complete without 100% Human™ movement founder Karen M. Allen. This relative newcomer has come in hot with a client list that includes Google, Travelers Insurance, the Women’s Foodservice Forum and many more. A favorite among millennial audiences as well as more seasoned business leaders, her keynote addresses focus on equipping individuals to develop and nurture healthier mindsets for both personal and professional growth.
Photo by G Holland/Shutterstock