What Is the Difference Between a Motivational Speaker and a Life Coach?

life coach motivational speaker personal growth Feb 20, 2022

There are many different options to choose from for personal development, such as reading self-help books, attending workshops and seminars, hiring a life coach, or listening to a motivational speaker. So what's the difference between a life coach and a motivational speaker? This article will look at some differences between motivational speakers and life coaches.

Which one should I work with for personal development?

If you are looking to improve your life and want some personal development, you might have come across the terms "motivational speaker" and "life coach." Both professions dabble in personal development and motivation, and for the uninitiated, they might look like the same career. However, there are some critical differences between the two professions. It's essential to know what these differences are, so you can know which one is the better choice to work with for your personal development, depending on your needs.

The number of people they communicate with

You might have come across a motivational speaker at some point in your life. They usually speak in large gatherings like motivational or corporate events and engage in public speaking to a large crowd of people. On the other hand, life coaches are more focused and work with their clients by holding one-on-one sessions.

There can be some confusion because some life coaches can also act as motivational speakers by holding events where they speak to a large audience. Tony Robbins is an example of a life coach who has events like a great motivational speaker. However, motivational speaking is only one part of his profession as he mainly does life coaching as his primary career. So, as you can see, life coaching can cross over to motivational speaking.

Duration of service

A motivational speaker will usually speak at an event for around one hour or longer as a one-time session. However, a life coach conducts multiple sessions with a client over time, ranging from several weeks to months or even a year.

If you only need a short burst of motivation or inspiration, you can try attending an event where a motivational speaker speaks. However, if your needs are more focused and you want to work long-term, a life coach will better suit you.


While a motivational speaker is a great speaker who can inspire and motivate many people, he is not committed to ensuring that they will implement what he has said in an event to trigger a life change for themselves. Therefore, it's up to you whether you would like to absorb what you have heard and implement positive changes in your life.

A life coach works differently by staying committed to a client and ensuring that the client does make positive changes to his life. Part of a life coach's responsibility is to make sure that their clients achieve their goals, so they check on them regularly and evaluate whether they are making progress, and make adjustments if necessary. Working with a professional life coach involves focus.

Purpose of service

One main difference between a life coach and a motivational speaker is the goal of their service. A motivational speaker can spread self-improvement awareness to inspire and motivate people. However, this motivation can only last for a short term, and most people will probably end up returning to their unmotivated states after a while. A motivational speaker is not responsible for ensuring his audience achieves results in their lives.

On the other hand, the purpose of life coaching is to ensure that clients hit their goals as they work with a life coach. Coaching does motivate from time to time, depending on the coach, but it's to make the client more fired up to meet his goal. Life coaching works better for the long term, so if you have any big goals in life that require a long time to accomplish and want somebody to help you, a life coach is the better choice.

Client participation

During motivational sessions with a motivational speaker, the speaker usually does most of the talking for the duration of the event. The audience might ask some questions at the end, but that's it. The speaker's knowledge and expertise get presented to you, but it's up to you if you can understand what he said and if you can apply it to your life.

With life coaching, as a client, you get the chance to speak with your life coach and make regular communication about matters. Life coaches use systems and proven methods to help their clients, but a professional life coach will adjust his skills and ability depending on their needs. You can regularly speak about your side with a life coach, and if he's a good listener and an understanding one, your coach can make adjustments to help you meet your goals.

Determine your motivational needs

Motivation can be such a challenge for many people, and sometimes, it takes somebody else to make us take action. Motivational speakers and life coaches can provide motivation, but they work differently. Your personal needs will also dictate whether a life coach or a motivational speaker will be better.

Generally speaking, if you need a short dose of inspiration to help you get off a slump, attending an event to listen to motivational speaker's talks can work for you. However, suppose you have more significant problems like self-confidence issues or troubles involving meeting your goals. In that case, it might not be practical to continue attending multiple motivational sessions done by a motivational speaker. Instead, a life coach can work better for long-term personal improvement, and the more hands-on approach can suit you.

Do note that a life coach can also be a motivational speaker life coach in that they hold events to speak to their clients. These events act like a big-together for their community, and attracting new members is another aspect. So don't be surprised if your life coach also does motivational speaking sometimes, as it is a way to reach a larger audience and gain some clientele. Life coaching and motivational speaking can go hand in hand, so it's essential to note the differences in what you can get out of each and what to expect from both styles of motivating other people.

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