Motivational Speech Examples

Motivational speech by Tony Robbins

Many motivational speech examples from movies and famous people continue to inspire others at graduations, school assemblies, sporting events, business meetings, fitness centers, and weight loss groups. 

Speakers are often asked to deliver an inspirational, motivational speech to a group of people. If you haven’t noticed how often speeches mark events or occasions you attend, watch a few movies. Motivational speech examples abound!

The speeches in the media offer inspiration – and great ideas – for how to five speeches in real-life events.

Motivational Speech Examples In The Media

Some of the best motivational speeches are watched repeatedly, essentially going viral. Some of the best include:

  1. Charlie Chapin, The Great Dictator
  2. Bill Pullman, Independence Day
  3. Russell Crowe, Gladiator
  4. Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday
  5. Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights
  6. Kenneth Branagh, Henry V
  7. Charlies S, Dutton, Rudy
  8. John Belushi, Animal House
  9. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption
  10. Bill Murray, Scrooged

You can enjoy these clips and read the whole list of popular media motivational speeches here. The question is, how do you write a memorable address that is sure to inspire in your own life?

What 3 Things Make A Good Motivational Speech?

A commonly asked question is what should be included in a motivational speech to make it effective. Many speech writing templates can prove helpful. These three aspects should be present when focusing on a motivational or inspirational speech.

  • A Clear Purpose: Anytime you give a speech, starting with a clear purpose is essential. That will help you to hone in on the main critical points you want to address. Knowing the occasion, audience, and venue will all help make topic decisions.
  • Personal Stories: Telling moving personal stories and anecdotes are excellent ways to get the audience to engage with you right from the start. Sharing your own experience from your personal life makes you relatable to those listening.
  • Audience Appropriate and Relevant: Knowing your audience is also essential to success in public speaking. Whether you are a keynote speaker at a conference or the valedictorian speaking at commencement, consider everyone assembled who will be listening. This will guide the main ideas you choose to share.

When Are Motivational Speeches Often Given?

There are many occasions when one might want to have a motivational speaker.

  • Award Ceremonies: There are many situations where one might hire someone to give a motivating speech in conjunction with an awards ceremony. Whether you are speaking of a “hard work pays off” address for sports awards or a call to action at a ceremony by your employer honoring accomplishments, this type of speech will be appropriate. Imagine you are part of a weight loss organization and, as a beginner, had the opportunity to listen to someone who had lost over 100 pounds. Might that leave you feeling hopeful and inspired?
  • Commencement: Although there is usually more than one speaker at a graduation ceremony, only one person has the opportunity to give the main commencement address.
  • Retirement Parties: As people gather to celebrate someone’s retirement, it is appropriate for a coworker to speak inspirational or motivating words. Whether the individual has survived adversity, fulfilled dreams, or reached goals, their story can motivate others to hear.
  • Special Events: Often, speeches mark other types of special events. As significant events are kicked off, such as pre-marathon parties or the beginning of a sports season, having someone come and give a “never give up” speech would be a great introduction to the season. Schools often have assemblies to inspire the student body to strive for greatness.
Retiement speech to group

What Are Some Motivational Speech Examples For Different Occasions?

Many speeches with inspiring takeaways motivate anyone with ears to listen and serve as excellent examples of motivational speaking. Whether you are a Harvard graduate sitting at the commencement or a high school football player listening to your coach give a pregame pep talk, hearing the right words at just the right moment can be life-changing.

Business Success

J.K. Rowling – Benefits of Failure and The Importance of Imagination Motivational Speech – “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began directing all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered. The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your.”

Steve Jobs– Founder of Apple, speaks at Stanford University Commencement, How to Live Before You Die. – “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

Commencement Speeches

Denzel Washington – University of Pennsylvania Commencement Speech – “Fail big. That’s right. Fail big. This is the beginning of the rest of your life, and it can be very frightening. It’s a new world out there, and it’s a mean world out there, and you only live once. So do what you feel passionate about.Take chances professionally. Don’t be afraid to fail. There’s an old IQ test with nine dots, and you had to draw five lines with a pencil within these nine dots without lifting the pencil, and the only way to do it was to go outside the box. So don’t be afraid to go outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big.”

Jim Carrey: Commencement Speech at Maharishi University of Management – “Life doesn’t happen to you; it happens for you.”

Crushing Goals

David Goggins: Outwork Everyone Else – “I am a World Champion because I was willing to outwork, out hustle and outperform everyone. That’s what it takes: hard work!”

Coach Tony D’Amato’s– (Al Pacino) Motivational Speech In Any Given Sunday (Also called the Inch by Inch Speech) – “Either we heal as a team, or we’re going to crumble, inch by inch, play by play, til we’re finished. We’re in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me. And we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time.”

Sylvester Stallone’s Motivational Speech to His Son In Rocky Balboa – “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”


Rosalinde Terres Ted Talk: What It Takes to be a Great Leader – “There’s an expression: Go along to get along. But if you follow this advice, chances are, as a leader, you’re going to keep doing what’s familiar and comfortable. Great leaders dare to be different. They don’t just talk about risk-taking; they actually do it. And one of the leaders shared with me the fact that the most impactful development comes when you are able to build the emotional stamina to withstand people telling you that your new idea is naïve or reckless, or just plain stupid. Now interestingly, the people who will join you are not your usual suspects in your network. They’re often people that think differently and therefore are willing to join you in taking a courageous leap. And it’s a leap, not a step.”

Simon Sinek: Be the Leader You Wish You Had – “The great leaders are not the strongest; they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them.”

Simon Sinek, Motivational Speaker
Simon Sinek by Lance Cpl. Brendan Mullin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Pam Berg

A former English teacher and currently an elementary principal in a rural school, Pam has honed her speaking skills in the classroom and before professional groups. Pam enjoys sharing her insights about public speaking almost as much as she enjoys running, which she does daily.

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