February 25, 2023
9 min read
No matter how positive a person you are, sometimes, it’s just difficult to feel motivated. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rainy day, a slow Monday, or just a day where you need a little extra inspo. A good motivational speech can transform your outlook.
We’ll break down what a motivational speech is and the top seven best motivational speeches you need to check out.
A motivational speech is a type of speech written to inspire people. Motivational speeches can be about almost any subject, so long as the main purpose is to motivate the audience to take action.
For example, TED talks — meant to educate and inspire — are often motivational speeches. If you need a pick-me-up, check out our list of the top 10 best TED talks of all time.
Yoodli has hundreds of examples of motivational speeches. You can also practice your own motivational speech and get AI powered feedback and actionable tips.
There’s nothing better to inspire you than a good motivational speech. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad Monday or you just want an extra push to get you through the week. This type of speech is perfect for any occasion where you need a little encouragement.
Here are our picks for the top seven best motivational speeches.
Malala Yousafzai — a Pakistani activist for women’s education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in the world — was shot by a member of the Taliban in 2012. It was an assassination attempt on a 15-year-old girl in response to her activism for women’s education. Incredibly, she survived the shot to the head. She continued her activism, going on to win the Nobel Peace Prize just two years later.
In 2014, she gave an inspiring lecture when she was awarded the accolade at the Oslo City Hall, Norway. After an introduction by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjörn Jagland, Yousafzai took the stage to give her lecture.
“Bismillah hir rahman ir rahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent,” Yousafzai began, beaming from the podium. “… Today is a great day of happiness for me.”
Then, she went on to speak on her dedication to advocating for equal education during the lecture.
“This award is not just for me,” Yousafzai said. “It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change. I am here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice. It is not time to pity them.”
This speech is one of the most moving, best motivational speeches on our list. It’s a compelling call to action from a teenager whose words sparked fear in one of the most notorious terrorist groups.
Watch her full Nobel Peace Prize lecture below:
Arguably the most famous motivational speech of all time is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in August of 1963. He delivered this influential speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the height of the civil rights movement to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people.
King was a Baptist minister and an advocate for Black rights. Among his many achievements, he was a driving force in the fight for equal rights during the civil rights movement of the ’50s ’60s. He led marches for not only civil rights, but also for labor rights, the right to vote, and desegregation.
In his motivational speech, King calls on the nation’s leaders to take a stand against the racism, injustice, and oppression targeting the Black community.
“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream,” King said. “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
King’s speech wasn’t only inspiring to those in the audience; it encouraged change and is a pivotal moment in U.S. history.
You can enjoy the full speech (with subtitles) below:
Oprah Winfrey, the famed talk-show host, author, and television producer, won the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2018 for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”
In addition, Winfrey has been called the “most powerful woman” by both TIME and CNN, and was named “one of the most influential people” by TIME from 2004 to 2011. USA Today has also recognized her as the influential Black person of the last quarter-century.
In her motivational speech, Winfrey expressed gratitude for all the women, especially those who have endured abuse, and spoke on injustice in the past and present. She also referenced Recy Taylor — a Black woman who was kidnapped and raped by six armed white men — and her enduring strength and work with Rosa Parks.
“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” she said. “I’ve always tried my best to … say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome.”
We analyzed Winfrey’s speech via Yoodli (a free, online communication coach) and found some interesting insights. She used no filler words, which is pretty incredible seeing as it’s a common challenge for most public speakers. Winfrey spoke at a conversational pace and maintained good body language.
You can use Yoodli to analyze your own speech and speaking patterns. It was designed not only for analysis, but also for interview preparation, for improving your English via practice, and for simple everyday conversation practice. With some dedicated effort, you can become as impressive of a speaker as Winfrey.
Watch her full acceptance speech at the Golden Globes here:
Nyle DiMarco — an actor, model, and Deaf activist — gave a TED talk in American sign language 2019 centered around education access to children who are deaf.
DiMarco walked the runway at Milan Fashion Week for Giorgio Armani. In 2014, DiMarco was the first Deaf contestant to win America’s Next Top Model. Then, he won the Mirror Ball trophy during “Dancing with the Stars” in 2016. Three years later, he took the stage for TED.
Across the globe, there are millions of children who are deaf and lack education access. DiMarco used his experiences growing up Deaf to describe the obstacles he faced. He also shared one of his biggest aspirations: to better the lives of deaf children.
“I’m working to give every deaf child in the world a future filled with a rich language and the opportunities I was lucky enough to receive,” he signed. “But the Deaf community cannot do it alone. We need you to become our allies and join us in making the world more knowledgeable. We need you to join us, to fight with us and for us, in the ongoing battle of affording children what they need to thrive.”
You can check out DiMarco’s full inspirational speech here:
Janelle Monáe is a queer, Black pop artist with a host of awards and nominations from organizations like BET, Billboard Music, ASCAP, and AICE, among others. In 2018, they won the Trailblazer Award at the Billboard Women in Music award ceremony in New York City.
Monáe has been recognized for their commitment in the LGBTQ community and for challenging gender boundaries, in addition to their empowering music and self-love lyrics.
Monáe’s acceptance speech for the 2018 Trailblazer Award was certainly one for the books, making our list of one of the best motivational speeches. The pop icon used their time on stage to not only acknowledge the achievement, but also to share the things she’d learned during her time as an influential artist.
“I’ve discovered, the most difficult trail to blaze is the one that takes us inside of who we are individually and as a whole,” they said. “Being a trailblazer is about diving into spaces unseen and undiscovered, which can be very exciting and frightening at the same time. For me, that meant uncovering aspects of who I am in order to create spaces for others.”
During the speech, Monáe credited their community — as well as other powerful women — for their inspiration in creating innovative music.
Watch Monáe’s motivational speech at the award ceremony here:
Greta Thunberg is a 20-year-old Swedish climate activist best known for confronting world leaders to take action to mitigate climate change and its effects.
In 2019, Thunberg traveled via sailboat to criticize world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit for failing to take real action to address and fight climate change. Her most famous quote from her powerful speech is a direct accusation to these leaders.
“You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” she said. “You’re failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
Watch her incredibly motivating speech — and other worthy best motivational speeches — in full at Yoodli, including all the analytics. You can also watch it below:
The beloved boxing character, Rocky Balboa, is portrayed by Sylvester Stallone. In the titular 2006 film “Rocky Balboa,” Rocky speaks to his son about believing in himself. Even though this speech is fictional, it stands as one of the best motivational speeches on our list.
Stallone expertly delivers this motivational speech with all his being — in true Rocky fashion — speaking through the screen to inspire anyone who happens to watch the film.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” Rocky says, looking at his son. “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 you hit.”
Although the speech is central to the movie and its plot, the message extends beyond the Hollywood allure.
Watch Stallone’s performance in this scene below:
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