Preview a motivational news report featuring Homeboy Goes to Harvard/Richard Santana speaking at a youth assembly to a High School in Los Angeles.
I have just completed a tour giving school assemblies to youth in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King. It is inspiring to see that high school students from both affluent to impoverished communities can be motivated by the memory of this great man and his ideology. Equality is something to truly aspire. After my last presentation, a physics teacher came to me with a question, “ How do I motivate my Latino students, who are considered illegal, to do well in school when they feel as if they are not included in this countries creed that all men are created equal.”
I understood the frustration of this teacher. It is not that a Latino student is capable of learning as is apparent from this physics teacher, it is that they do not have a sense of purpose since they are not allow the full benefits of an education. The happiness I felt from receiving a standing ovation from this youth motivational assembly dissipated as my heart sunk to this realization. WE NEED A DREAM ACT.
I gave another motivational presentation today, this time to about 200 parents at a High School in Oakland, California. I sometimes forget how important this information is, but as I speak, people are immediately engaged. I know this is not because of my skills as a motivational speaker, necessarily, but because ALL in the room, parents and caregivers, are committed to doing the best we can to raise our children.
Teens are amazing in their own way: they are engaged, excited and often passionate. Of course, they do get into trouble sometimes, and because of this, we parents have fears: What if my child gets caught up in alcohol or drugs? How do I know if they are overly anxious or depressed? What can I do to really show up for them as a parent?
This is precisely what my motivational presentations for parents are about: the reasons our kids do the things they do, ways parents can pay attention to them in these changing times, and ideas on how to best engage them when our two cultures (the teen’s world and the adult’s world) collide. I am honored to do this work and to make connections with the parents through my presentation and want to extend this through my writings in our blog. In writings to follow, I will provide tips for parents to use as a guild with their teens. Armed with these tools, I believe we all become better equipped to be the best parents we can be.
My travels took me to the Tule River Reservation where I was asked to give a motivational speech at a community event for youth and adults. The topic was drug prevention. I gave my testimony and inspired the young but the real draw was not I. They came to hear Bernard Baga, a local native who had recently turned his life around by breaking the hold of drug addiction. He spoke with a sincerity and honesty that touched all in the audience. His message was simple. Drugs will destroy life. How compelling it was for me to listen to his words. After, he gave a traditional prayer dance. Everyone in the room stood to honor this man as he gave back to his community. I was truly inspired. Upon my departure I said to him, “ I know your story and I will carry it with me with great respect.” We hugged each other and I left knowing that this community has a true warrior.
I was driving through a California city after doing a youth presentation when I noticed a sign on the road that said, “Woe to those who believe good to be evil and evil to be good.” I thought about what this meant since I had just spent an hour talking to a young man who was dealing with this exact dilemma.
The young man is a former gang member who is trying to change his reputation from being a negative disruption to a productive member of his school and community. Behind the sun glasses that hid his eyes from revealing any emotion, he told me, “I want to change but I can’t let these dudes think I’m soft”. Yet, with intention and sincerity in his voice, he expressed a desire to move away from drugs and violence. Like many who grow up in adverse situations, he believed that doing good would leave him vulnerable.
I remember growing up believing the same to be true. For me to prove myself worthy, I had to engage in violent destructive behavior. It was only after enduring many tragedies that I came to understand how my activities were not making me stronger but filling me with despair. I shared my story with this young man and hoped that he heard my words that doing good is never an evil thing. I remembered the struggle in his face as we parted and understood how difficult it was going to be for him to change. Difficult but not impossible.
What is the message you are trying to convey?
Now that you have narrowed your search by first considering your audience, the next step for choosing a motivational speaker is to consider the message you are trying to convey. If you are looking for someone to give a keynote address at a gang awareness summit or to conduct a seminar at a diversity training, it is important to consider a presenter who is knowledgeable on the topic. Too many times, a motivational speaker is asked to present because they are humorous or entertaining. While this is an aspect to consider, the ability to convey your specific message is far more relevant. Otherwise, the motivational speaker is doing nothing more then making the audience laugh.
A sponsor once shared that he hired a guest speaker to present at several school assemblies in the state of Washington. He had secured the services of a youth motivational speaker and later found that the presentation was completely inappropriate for the theme of the events. Although the speaker made the audience laugh and was engaging, there was no substance to the message. This was disturbing to the sponsor.
If there is a theme or if your event is specific towards a certain profession, it makes simple sense to select someone who can convey a message that fits. Whether you are looking to have some one speak on diversity, the theory and practices of education, economics, gang prevention or how to make a million dollars, make sure the speaker you hire is knowledgeable on the topic and can convey your message.