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Money Talks In The Business of Motivational Speaking

Published 8 years ago
By Forbes Africa

The business of motivational speaking in Africa is in boom. In the last two years the continent has seen an influx of top international speakers such as Richard Branson, Steadman Graham and John Demartini. But in this digital age, where almost everything is available online for free, it’s surprising that many are still willing to pay $1,000 to hear someone speak.

South African business coach, Vusi Thembekwayo, has been in the business for the last 10 years. He says the reason for the sudden interest in Africa is because the American industry is saturated, the European’s are sceptical but South Africa’s fast growing business sector has people wanting to hear from business gurus. Thembekwayo says although there are many professionally trained speakers, there are also people ready to make a quick buck.

“I think that there is a very large proportion of speakers out there who are [scammers]… There are the guys who go home and read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, and then the following morning rate themselves as speakers…”

The industry consists of a variety of businesspeople, sportsmen, psychologists and professionally trained speakers. Some speak loudly with rehearsed PowerPoint presentations while others can be soft-spoken. All speakers will attempt to encourage you and make you feel that you can achieve success and live your dreams. During presentations you can also expect a book promotion and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I see the Americans here doing their really big rah-rah conferences. [They’ll say] ‘If you come now we can sell you a package at R10,000 ($960) just run to the back… it’s only going at  [that price] today, if you buy tomorrow it will be R50,000 ($4,800). Buy my package today and I’m going to teach you how to make a million rand through sales,’” says Thembekwayo.

It seems one of the most uncomfortable topics for speakers is money. But, how much do they charge for their words?

Thembekwayo benchmarks himself against some of the industry’s best, such as Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Adrian Gore and Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita. He charges his clients R45,000 ($4,300) for a 45 to 60 minute session, the size of the crowd ranges from 15 to 3,000 people.

“I don’t allow my clients to say it’s too expensive because if you say it’s too expensive then you don’t want what it is that I’m offering you and I’m happy you go elsewhere.”

For sales trainer Barry Mitchell, finding his cost was a matter of trial and error by seeing what the client was willing to pay and how comfortable he felt charging them for his service. The founder of the Uncovering Your Greatness program, Mitchell offers one-day free seminars, private coaching, which costs between R15,000 ($1,400) and R20,000 ($1,900), and 5-day seminars which cost R40,000 ($3,800).

“The better you do, and the more value you add, the more your self-worth grows and the more you could charge. But, I’m very particular about the more I charge the more value I have to add.”

Mitchell says the reason people are willing to pay to hear someone speak has less to do with money and more to do with the value they hope it will add to their lives and businesses.

“[When] I got to chat with Robert Kiricsi it wasn’t anything he told me that made me think, wow that will change my life. It was the value of me just being able to sit and I thought  this guy just thinks a little differently to what I’m used to. If he thinks like that and he’s done so well, then how do I think?”

“Let’s face it, what we teach, is nothing new under the sun. I think, a lot of the time, it’s how we teach it and it’s the connection the speaker makes with other people,” says Mitchell.

At the end of the day, you can attend all the motivational talks in the world and read countless books on how other people became successful. But, ultimately you have to make the decision on whether to act now or spend your life waiting for the right time.

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Related Topics: #Africa, #Barry Michell, #Business, #May 2014, #Motivational speaking, #Vusi Thembekwayo.