Why Don’t Motivational Speeches Work?

Adrian S. Potter
2 min readJul 3, 2022

When it comes to self-improvement, choose salads over sweets.

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

Have you ever opened a YouTube link to kill time and ended up surfing a tidal wave of inspiration?

Or have you ever attended a conference where a presenter verbally nudged you to take action instead of waiting for good fortune to arrive?

If you have, you know what a motivational speech is and how powerful it can be.

And people LOVE them. An effective motivational speech oozes charisma and helps folks deal with difficult times and uncertainty.

All of this will make my next statement seem controversial.

Motivational speeches are the junk food of personal development.

Sure, they are enticing and enjoyable to digest, but motivational speeches aren’t satisfying in the long run. Those sugar-laden, empty calories do not provide enough nutrients and nourishment for developing a useful new habit or skill.

But why?

Well, most motivational speeches are emotionally driven, so they appeal to your willpower rather than your practical side. And although your willpower can get a lot accomplished in the short term, it becomes challenging to sustain that level of focus and drive over a long period.

I’d almost always trade the fleeting spark of a motivational speech for the deliberate slow burn of developing a positive habit.

Adrian S. Potter — the antisocial extrovert — is an author, engineer, consultant, and public speaker. When he’s not busy silently judging your beer selection and record collection, he writes poetry, short fiction, and articles on various subjects, including creativity, leadership, and personal growth. Adrian is the winner of the 2022 Lumiere Review Prose Award and the author of the poetry book Everything Wrong Feels Right (Portage Press). Visit him at http://adrianspotter.com/.

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Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com