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Engagement Diversity and Inclusion

35 Motivational Keynote Speakers to Hire for Your Conference

By Meaghan Maybee on April 17, 2024

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Meaghan Maybee
Meaghan Maybee

As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.

When planning a conference, choosing the right keynote speaker can make all the difference in creating a memorable and impactful event. The right speaker will motivate and inspire your audience, while also sharing valuable insights and knowledge on a chosen topic.

How do you select a speaker who resonates with your audience's interests and needs to truly engage and connect with them?

In this article, we've compiled a list of top motivational speakers who bring a wealth of expertise and experience in various industries and fields. From leadership to entrepreneurship, diversity and inclusion, and beyond, you’re bound to find a great fit for your conference here.


Table of Contents

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Top Guest Speaker Recommendations

Looking to elevate your next event with a captivating speaker? The following nine people (many of whom I've personally met) will inspire, educate, entertain, and engage your audience. Whether you're organizing a corporate conference, a professional workshop, or a community gathering, these thought leaders will follow through as thought-provoking storytellers.


1. Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene will energize your attendees and send them home ready to do something different! Her program uncovers the hidden causes of stress and provides strategies to combat the impact of overwhelm and uncertainty. She uses humor, personal stories, interactive exercises, original job stress research, and case studies to teach listeners about work-life balance and leadership.

  • Connect with Eliz Greene on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: “Eliz Greene is an amazing speaker with a great story to tell. She can also MC or host.” - Mary-Ann U.

Speaker Headshot - Eliz Greene


2. Amber Swenor

Amber Swenor is a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and retreat presenter who provides transformational experiences that create lasting impact.
Amber’s talks focus on authentic leadership as the foundation for leadership and business success. With a background in business, leadership, and personal experience as the first in her family to graduate high school/college and as the front person in a metal band, Amber’s approach is engaging, unique, and creates lasting change.
Book Amber if you are looking for someone to present on cultivating leadership, bringing your vision into reality, and the intersection of authenticity and business strategy. Amber also speaks on women's empowerment.

Speaker Headshot - Amber Swenor


3. Rick Czaplewski

As a motivational speaker and cancer survivor, Rick Czaplewski is no stranger to resilience. Rick first met Hodgkin's Disease as a freshman in college and reacquainted with cancer only 18 months later when it relapsed. Determined to graduate, Rick dropped out of college, underwent chemotherapy, and returned to earn his degree.

Rick has gone on to climb mountains, swim oceans, and run marathons. He is a published author, father, and keynote speaker. Today, he speaks on resilience, perseverance, goal-setting, and cancer survivorship.

  • Connect with Rick on LinkedIn and X.
  • Promising Review: "Rick's was engaging. I liked the way he spoke about how to live life with determination and to do the things you want while you can & still have time. His impactful story is well worth listening to.” - Ed S. 


4. Paula Houlihan

Paula Houligan is a public speaker who believes in enjoying success without putting your happiness on hold. She recognized the power that "choice" had in her life and began researching how change affects us. She then discovered four factors that influence the choices we make.

Paula's keynotes focus on mastering choice to manage change. With a background in psychology, Paula's presentations will inform, engage, and entertain. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and is a certified virtual presenter and virtual host through espeakers.

  • Connect with Paula on LinkedIn and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: “Excellent speaker and highly recommended. Whether she presents a heartfelt story or a motivating speech, both are effective and helpful for all audiences that want to receive a powerful message.” - Tammy J.

Speaker Headshot - Paula Houlihan


5. John Nepper

John Nepper is a speaker who tells the Story Formula for Extraordinary Retention™, which provides audiences with the ultimate rules for creating higher levels of trust and connection. John specializes in interactive, high-energy keynotes, trainings, and workshops—specifically within the education field.

John’s mission is to create a more joyful world by maximizing the best of human potential. If you’re looking for a dynamic speaker to help your organization achieve its goals, John is the perfect choice. 

  • Connect with John on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: "I see people who participated in [John's] workshop moving out, touching, and inspiring many new people to use the wonderful gifts they discovered at the workshop." - Betty B.

Speaker Headshot - John Nepper


6. Kathie Rotz

Kathie Rotz works with people who want to learn how to think differently to be a more successful leader. As a professional speaker and coach, Kathie believes that every person has unique strengths and talents. Yet, we get frustrated with ourselves when we try new things and fail.

Kathie's presentations focus on identifying our strengths, cultivating our talents, and embracing the things that make us different. She is a DISC certified behavioral analyst and possesses a certification in John Maxwell leadership content.

  • Connect with Kathie on LinkedIn and Instagram.
  • Promising Review: "One of my first impressions of Kathie was how well she provokes a leadership mindset through asking great questions." - Attendee

Speaker Headshot - Kathie Rotz


7. Terra Fletcher

Terra Fletcher is a corporate trainer, keynote speaker, author, consultant, and award-winning entrepreneur. She specializes in engaging presentations that provide tangible tools and actionable takeaways so every person in her audience leaves the room with something to do or achieve.

Terra's presentation topics range from marketing to leadership, customer service, entrepreneurship, and communication. Book her to learn how to establish yourself as a leader, attract talent, grow your business, create a personal brand, and more.

  • Connect with Terra on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: "Terra really knows how to entice an audience, keep them engaged, and provide quality content they can apply immediately. I highly recommend her as a speaker for your next event. She just rocks!" - Thomas C.

Speaker Headshot - Terra Fletcher


8. Kristin Bock

Kristin Bock is a speaker who specializes in teaching audiences how to use the science of body language and human connection to increase their ability to connect with others. With a background in psychology and as a certified body language trainer, Kristin helps leaders and business professionals win more clients, draw people in, and cultivate brand enthusiasts.

Kristin's topics include, but aren't limited to, understanding how to speak "fluent body language," cultivating charisma, picking up on non-verbal cues, and more. 

  • Connect with Kristin on LinkedIn.
  • Promising Review: "Kristin definitely met our expectations! Her presentation style was interactive, engaging, and thorough. She was friendly, focused, exceptionally knowledgeable, and relaxed. She inspired and motivated members." - Cathleen C.

Speaker Headshot - Kristin Bock


9. Charlie Ray

Charlie Ray is an environmental neuroscientist, international keynote speaker, and creator of the "15-minute shift." He founded his company, Limitless Believing, after losing his son to a medical misdiagnosis and depression. This event inspired Charlie to create a system to speed up the process of emotional healing.

Charlie has spent a decade of his life creating and mastering one of the fastest healing methods of our time. His presentations teach audiences how to get more out of life, effect change, and unlock barriers.

  • Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn.
  • Promising Review: "If you’re looking to transform your life or business in ways you never thought possible, then I wholeheartedly recommend Charlie Ray and Limitless Believing." - Jessica O.

Speaker Headshot - Charlie Ray


Best Female Motivational Speakers

As the event industry continues to grow, there has been an increased demand for diverse and inclusive conference speakers. Consider highlighting the contributions and unique perspectives of female motivational speakers. In this section, we will highlight some of our favorite female motivational speakers who are making waves in their industries and inspiring audiences around the world.

10. Caroline A. Wanga

Caroline A. Wanga is a business leader, equity strategist, and thought leader who teaches audiences to listen courageously, celebrate authenticity, and design strategic impact in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Caroline has been named Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and recognized by Savoy as one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.

Speaker Headshot - Caroline Wanga


11. Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning science journalist, speaker, and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life and The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. In her words, Catherine helps people scroll less, live more, and have fun! She believes that through playfulness, connection, and flow, we can empower ourselves to live our best, most fulfilled lives.

  • Connect with Catherine Price on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Promising Review: “Our employees loved hearing the great observations that Catherine shared in our recent resilience event. Even though it was a virtual event, the participants were engaged throughout the session, sending questions and chats throughout. We loved Catherine’s great suggestions!” - CIGNA

Speaker Headshot - Caroline Price


12. Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher is a world-renowned keynote speaker who delivers inspiring talks on leadership, mindset, and peak performance. She comes from a 15-year background as a sports agent representing top athletes and coaches. Her presentations include how to unleash your true potential, how to be fearless at work, how to achieve a “champion mindset,” and how to win in business as a woman.

Speaker Headshot - Molly Fletcher


13. Judi Holler

Judi Holler is a keynote speaker whose presentations teach audiences that, while we cannot avoid difficult things in life, we can control what we do next. Her mission is to help people understand that they hold the power. Hire Judi to learn how to turn obstacles into opportunities, how to leverage boundaries, and how to create iconic teams and leaders.

Speaker Headshot - Judi Holler


14. Dr. Kate Steiner

Dr. Kate Steiner serves as a burnout recovery consultant, speaker, author, and founder at LIFT Wellness Consulting. Dr. Steiner’s practice is grounded in research-based models of helping professionals grow and thrive in their burnout recovery journeys. Her mission is to help end the burnout cycle among professionals to help them live happier, healthier lives.

Speaker Headshot - Kate Steiner

15. Robin Shear

As a TEDxDetroit speaker, Robin Shear brings laughter, energy, and purpose to event audiences looking to infuse more joy into their lives. Specializing in burnout management and recovery, Robin's past presentations include "The Joy of Being Spontaneous," "Messy Joy: Mixing Optimism into Imperfect Lives," and "Overflow Your Joy Bucket with Real Connection."  

Her messages are highly customized and range from 45-minute keynotes to full conferences. If you want your group to walk away in action mode, ready to live more joyfully and share their hope with others, Robin Shear is a great fit for your event.

  • Promising Review: "Robin was amazing. She was fun and kept our attention. Everything she stated was something we could do to better ourselves. It would really help if Robin brought this presentation to my workplace!” - A. Lanfear
  • Connect with Robin on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
  • Read Robin's list of presentation topics.

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16. Shelley Brown

Shelley Brown's keynote presentations teach leaders how to create a continuous culture of belonging by fostering a safe environment where employees can choose their level of authenticity to perform their best through the following paradigm: Safety + Choice = Belonging. Learn how to create environments that foster a continuous sense of belonging by partnering with Shelley.

  • Connect with Shelley Brown on LinkedIn and Instagram
  • Promising Review: “I recently attended an event where Shelley was the speaker. She was very engaging and used compelling storytelling.” - Mozi Z.

Speaker Headshot - Shelley Brown


Best Business and Educational Motivational Speakers

In our fast-paced world, it can be a challenge to stay motivated and focused on achieving our goals. Help attendees improve their productivity, innovate, and grow with inspirational keynote speakers who have the expertise and experience to help them get there!

17. Alex Sheen

Alex Sheen is one of the world’s foremost experts on accountability and commitment, giving presentations on making (and keeping) promises. He is an author, podcast host, five-time TEDxTalk speaker, and founder of the “because I said I would” movement. His goal is to inspire people to become active participants in their communities and to instill a desire to help others through volunteerism.

  • Connect with Alex Sheen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Promising Review: “Alex Sheen was the best keynote I’ve ever had. He was amazing.” - Laura T.

Speaker Headshot - Alex Sheen


18. Chris Norton

Chris Norton suffered a spinal cord injury playing college football, losing all feeling and movement from the neck down. He was only given a 3% chance to ever move again. Today, Chris teaches that life is about keeping a positive attitude and shaping yourself in the face of adversity. Chris’ story, titled 7 Yards: Christ Norton Story, has been featured on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and AppleTV.

Speaker Headshot - Chris Norton


19. Erik Weihenmayer

Erik Weihenmayer is a blind man who climbed Mt. Everest, earning his spot in Time Magazine. He also is the Co-founder of No Barriers USA, a non-profit that teaches “what is within you is stronger than what’s in your way.” His keynotes focus on the idea that there are seven critical elements designed to help you map out and tackle your own mountains, both in life and at work.

Speaker Headshot - Erik Weihenmayer


20. John O’Leary

John O’Leary was a nine-year-old boy when he burned 100% of his body in an explosion. He woke up in a hospital bed and doctors gave him a 1% chance to live. After five months in the hospital, dozens of surgeries, and years of physical therapy, John survived and thrived. Today, his speeches revolve around seizing life and keeping a positive mindset in every situation.

Speaker Headshot - John OLeary


21. Mick Ebeling

Mick Ebeling, along with a team of programmers, artists, and inventors, developed the EyeWriter, an affordable eye-tracking device that allows artists with ALS to draw using only their eyes. As the Founder of Bento and the Not Impossible Foundation, Mick’s motto is “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?” Mick has been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 50 World’s Greatest Leaders.

  • Connect with Mick Ebeling on LinkedIn.

Speaker Headshot - Mick Ebling


22. Stedman Graham

Stedman Graham is an educator, author, businessman, and public speaker. He is also the long-term partner of Oprah Winfrey. Stedman’s keynotes focus on teaching audiences how to learn who they are, create a vision, improve their relationships, set goals, and build a performance mindset. He uses his proven Nine Step Success Process® to teach and drive his powerful messages.

Speaker Headshot - Stedman Graham


23. Travis Mills

Travis Mills is a retired United States Army Staff Sergeant of the 82nd Airborne who survived after becoming critically injured in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device). As a quadruple amputee, he advocates for veterans and shares his knowledge in his best-selling memoir Tough as They Come. He uses his sense of humor to engage audiences and teach them to never quit.

Speaker Headshot - Travis Mills


24. Sean Swarner

Sean Swarner is a speaker, adventurer, author, performance coach, and young adult cancer survivor. He tells an incredible story of his journey from lying in a hospital bed to conquering Everest with one lung.

The first cancer survivor atop Everest, Sean has scaled seven continents, completed the Hawaii Ironman, and achieved the Explorer’s Grand Slam. Now, as a motivational speaker, Sean seamlessly weaves his triumphs into talks that redefine success. 

Sean's presentations focus on resilience, overcoming adversity, empowering leadership, mental toughness and wellbeing, and resilience in change and uncertainty.

  • Connect with Sean on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, X, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: "Sean Swarner is one of my favorite motivational speakers. He tells an incredible story that leaves audiences feeling like they can do anything." - Tricia R.

Speaker Headshot - Sean Swarner


Best Leadership Motivational Speakers

Leadership is a critical component of any successful organization. But how, exactly, can you cultivate your skills and qualities to transform yourself into a great leader? Whether you're looking to inspire your team, enhance your professional skills, or learn how to lead, these inspirational speakers are making an impact in their fields and helping others achieve success along the way.


25. John Register

Transform your audience with John Register, an inspirational speaker, trainer, and coach. John shares his inspirational journey of courage, resilience, and leadership in the face of adversity as he transitioned from all-American long jumper to Paralympic Silver medalist.

John's keynotes focus on igniting your passion and pursuing it, embracing your inner entrepreneur, and leveraging consistency to achieve discovery. His unique perspective as an athlete with a disability allows him to connect with audiences deeply and personally.

  • Connect with John on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, X, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: "I've used John three times and the reason I keep going back to him is I know he's going to deliver." - Greta S.

Speaker Headshot - John Register (2)


26. April Callis-Birchmeier

April Callis-Birchmeier PMP®, CCMP™, CSP provides valuable insights on organizational change and developing positive culture through her keynote speaking and interactive workshops. Recognized as a Top 30 Global Guru in Organizational Culture, April delivers engaging talks that resonate with audiences.

She is the founder and leader of Springboard Consulting and the author of four best-selling books, including "READY, Set, Change! Simplify and Accelerate Organizational Change."

Speaker Heashot - April Callis-Birchmeier


27. Carla Harris

Carla Harris has been named one of the Top 40 Female Speakers in the World (2020), speaking to audiences about how to maximize their career success. In 2013, Carla Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. Today, she is a singer and best-selling author of several leadership books that cover lessons learned during her Wall Street career.

Speaker Headshot - Carla Harris


28. Colonel Nicole Malachowski

Colonel Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Retired) is a keynote speaker who provides thought-provoking and engaging speeches to audiences across all different industries and around the globe. She aims to inspire professionals to rethink the challenges they face every day, master the role of being a trustworthy team player, and embrace moments of personal and professional vulnerability.

  • Connect with Colonel Nicole Malachowski on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Promising Review: “Nicole Malachowski was incredible at our leadership conference last year. She was able to take our goals and objectives from our event and apply them to her talk so seamlessly, and we had ONE meeting with her. She is incredible. Her personal story is so fascinating.” - Dayna L.

Speaker Headshot - Colonel Nicole Malachowski


29. Jon Dorenbos

Jon Dorenbos brings an element of fun to any event by blending storytelling, magic, and humor to create an unforgettable experience. More than “just a magic show,” Jon uses magic to complement his messaging around leadership, overcoming obstacles, teamwork, and more. Jon was a finalist on season 11 of America’s Got Talent and the author of the book Life is Magic.

Speaker Headshot - Jon Dorenbos


30. Layne "The Auctionista"

Layne the Auctionista focuses their presentations on entrepreneurship, leadership, and overcoming adversity. Mid-life, Layne stepped away from the corporate world and became a high-energy fundraising event auctioneer who's found record-breaking success in their career.

As a non-binary keynote speaker and self-described "philantro-tainer", Layne uses emotion, humor, and storytelling to teach lessons about the meaning of success and how to challenge societal expectations to stay true to yourself.

Speaker Headshot - Layne the Auctionista


31. Mason Harris

Mason Harris, also known as the "Chutzpah Guy," learned early on that America is the land of opportunity, and that success has two critical components: Education and chutzpah. As an entrepreneur, Mason shares his experience of "successes" and "lesser successes," along with his rules of Chutzpah: A combination of self-confidence, audacity, creativity, and extraordinary leadership.

  • Connect with Mason Harris on LinkedIn.

Speaker Headshot - Mason Harris


32. Regan Walsh

Regan Walsh is a lifelong motivator and passionate leader who inspires teams through keynotes, workshops, and panels around the globe. She covers a variety of uplifting topics, including how to beat burnout, utilize the “power of positive disruption,” and reclaim the “power of yes.” Regan also offers coaching to help women elevate their leadership and amplify their impact.

  • Connect with Regan Walsh on LinkedIn and Instagram.
  • Promising Review: “I met this amazing speaker and then saw her speak to a group of entrepreneurs. She was funny and motivating.” - Erin F.

Speaker Headshot - Regan Walsh

33. Terrance Minnoy

Terrance Minnoy is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, coach, and author. Certified by the Les Brown Institute and the Center for Executive Coaching, Terrance empowers leaders to welcome change, take on challenges, and embrace disruption on the way to miraculous results. He comes from 25+ years of corporate sales experience and authored the book Indifferent Strokes, Embracing Life’s Adversities.

Speaker Headshot - Terrance Minnoy


34. Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly is an internationally-acclaimed speaker and best-selling author. Over the past decade, he's given 2,500+ keynote presentations in fifty counties. He also teaches audiences how to lead people and manage processes while mastering the art of handling difficult transitions.

Matthew's past topics have included "The Culture Solution: Building a Dynamic Culture for Everyone," and "Leading Through Change: Understanding How to Manage a Transition." Book Matthew to teach your audiences how to lead others through transitions to achieve positive change.

Speaker Headshot - Matthew Kelly


35. Roger Firestien

Dr. Roger Firestien has presented his programs on creativity and innovation to more than 600 organizations around the world. His speeches focus on "turning on" maximum creativity within your organization instead of just waiting for new ideas to happen.

Roger's keynotes are interactive, high energy, and inspiring, and uncover problems that might be keeping your team from moving forward and achieving its greatest potential.

Speaker Headshot - Roger Firestien


Sample Speaker Agreement Template: Get Your Copy

Are you looking to hire a speaker for your next event? If so, you’ll need a clear and professional agreement that protects both parties and helps ensure a successful event.

This free speaker contract template will not only save you significant time but also highlight key details you must cover for a successful speaking engagement, including the following:

  • Scope of Work
  • Compensation
  • Travel arrangements
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Indemnification
  • Termination
  • Governing Law
  • ...and more!

Don't spend hours drafting a contract from scratch. Download your free speaking engagement agreement template here and customize it to fit your needs!

download a sample speaker agreement template from pc/nametag

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