8 Best Motivational Speeches

Words have power. Plain and simple. They have the power to inspire, to motivate, to make you re-evaluate your life and the direction it’s heading in. At the same time, words have the ability to make you refocus; pay attention and take steps to positively change your life.

Yet not all words hold the same power. Think about it…

Of all the motivational speeches you’ve ever heard – how many have given you pause for thought? How many have reached inside you and sparked a thought, a feeling or a need to change? Not many, right?

So what makes the difference? How is it that some of the best motivational speeches succeed in moving us, whilst others are forgotten?

The answer is simple – it’s their choice of words, and the imagery they paint or use in their videos that spark that connection within you.

Below are 8 of the best motivational speeches currently available on YouTube, that are definitely think they’re worth a watch. Not just because they are unique, memorable and powerful in their own right, but because they have all got something to offer.

Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Best known for his position as chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios; in this revealing and inspiring speech, Steve Jobs offered graduating students at Stanford university an inside look into three pivotal moments that changed the course of his life and career.

What is so powerful about this motivational speech is how real and personal it is. There is nothing fabricated in his words in order to create something meaningful. Instead he has taken real moments that can be verified through his biography and has used them to show how what others may see as setbacks – dropping out of college, losing your job and facing death – are in fact opportunities that could lead to the best moments of your life.

Add into the equation, his successes and the events he has had to overcome in life – and together they work to create a truly inspiring speech that proves that it is possible to change your destiny and achieve the successes you crave. By simply following your heart (even if it takes you off the beaten track); having faith, and finding what you love in life; you can make the best out of even the harshest of situations.

Everybody dies, but not everybody lives

Created by Prince Ea, this thought provoking speech – performed in the form of a rap – really gives you pause for thought as the questions he asks are ones that run through our minds every day. Have you truly lived?

From unfulfilled dreams, to risks you never took; Prince Ea reveals that life isn’t just about existing, but should be based on finding the courage to grab the dreams that choose you. Like a plane, we aren’t meant to live on the ground, but take off. Yet because of doubt – the biggest thief of our mind – many of us turn into a ‘Kinda’. And if you only ‘Kinda’ want something, you will only ‘Kinda’ get it.

What I love about this speech is how revealing it is of our inner psyche and the fears that prevent us from flying. Yet through his examples of Oprah, Spielberg and Beyoncé, he shows that be persevering you can break through the doubt and succeed.

How Bad Do You Want It?

This speech by Eric Thomas (aka The Hip Hop Preacher) contains inspirational footage of Seattle Seahawks player Giavanni Ruffins as he intensively trains so he can keep doing what he loves. Even though he has reached the top, he doesn’t quit or give up. He keeps pushing and trying to better himself. And this passion and drive is evident in the way he trains.

It’s this imagery which makes Eric Thomas’s story of the guru (and the man who wants to make money) so powerful, as Ruffins is the perfect embodiment of this story’s intention: the fact that in order to truly succeed you have to want it as much as breathing. You have to want it more than sleep, partying, eating etc. If you don’t, then you will never reach the level of success you crave.


What is great about this motivational speech – created by Mateusz M – is that it’s not traditional. Instead you are presented with a compilation of famous speeches by Steve Jobs, Les Brown and Eric Thomas (two of which we have already spoken about), as they each urge you to: connect the dots; not give up on yourself, and find what you love doing.

All three speakers follow a similar trend of moving past fear and encouraging you to not let your emotions control you. Instead by taking responsibility for your actions, you can write the next chapter of your life and make your goals a reality.

Such words paired with film clips/footage of athletes training, is very successful at getting their message across, as you can see the instant when each individual makes the decision to take control; move past their fears, and push themselves.

The Story of Rick and Dick Hoyt

Similar to the video above, this is not a traditional motivational speech as there is not one set speaker. Yet what the footage – taken from interviews and news reports – portrays is an unbelievable and courageous story of a man’s love for his son, and the lengths he will go to to ensure that his son gets to experience everything his dreams of despite his disability.

Their story is truly breath-taking as the footage of their races combined with their interviews shows how love and friendship can transcend the limitations of the body, and can make anything possible.

Anyone watching this video cannot walk away and wonder – if they can do it, why can’t I?

Warhawk Matt Scott in Nike ‘No Excuses’ Commercial

This video is proof of all the poor excuses we tell ourselves and others to get out of doing stuff. ‘I’m too weak’, ‘got a headache’, ‘I would love to but I can’t’… listening to all of these excuses coming from a man who has not only embraced his disability, but hasn’t let it stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a basketball player, really puts everything into perspective.

The truth is we have no excuses. None. And this statement is made all the more powerful by this simple image of him rolling away with that last excuse of ‘my feet hurt’. Upon seeing this, you cannot help but see your excuses for what they really are: your fears and emotions taking shape in the form of lies.

Nike: #Kobesystem – Level 1 Success

This series of Nike commercials – featuring the #Kobesystem – is designed to make you walk away and think. There are seven commercials in total, yet the message consistently shown across all – as Kobe passes his system onto the likes of Richard Branson, Kanye and Aziz Ansari – is that you can always do better.

Instead of being the same animal that attacks fast all the time, you can learn the system and become a different animal. One that has learnt how to attack fast AND strong; who keeps their defence offensive, and who keeps striving to do more and be better. Even when you feel successful there is still always something more you can do.

The fact these commercials feature such successful famous people is a testament that whilst they may appear to be at the top of their game; they haven’t yet reached their full potential.

Why We Do What We Do – Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is well known for his inspirational speeches, yet what I love most about this particular one is how he reveals that his job is not to motivate his clients, but to ask them ‘why’. Why do they do what they do? What invisible forces drive them? By understanding the ‘why’, he can successfully coach his clients on ways to contribute more to society, as well as achieve a better understanding/appreciation of those around them.

This speech is fascinating at it delves into your emotions (and how to find the right one); your inner psyche (your 6 human needs); what shapes you (events in your lives), and the science of achievement and the art of fulfilment, so you are better equipped to understand the driving force of your actions/decisions. This is definitely one of the best motivational speeches ever delivered on the TED stage.

Dan Storey is the creator of Motiv8Seminars and a personal development junkie. Dan has worked in and around the world of motivational seminars for many years, starting as a volunteer and affiliate before heading up one of the UK’s biggest personal development seminar companies. Dan has been training NLP to businesses and sales people for over 10 years and is the author of Next Level Persuasion. He is also currently working towards his MSc in Behavioural Psychology and is constantly trying to figure out why we do what we do.