25 Greatest Motivational Speeches Of All Time

Motivational speeches

Listening to speeches can certainly move the human spirit, as the person giving it is speaking from a position of triumph and victory and will usually be fully aligned and feeling a deep sense of fulfilment. Eyes are usually lit up with absolute certainty that what they applied and what they learned really did work, and more often than not, they want to share the applied knowledge with the audience. Speeches articulate a wonderful message for the most part, and they are a great way to pass true inner wisdom and real life experiences from the speaker to the audience.

Here’s the top 25 greatest motivational speeches from some of the most influential figures and universally famous people who share their wisdom and insight. Everything from the highly intriguing Ted Talks’ ideas worth spreading discussions to Award winning thank you speeches to College graduation commencements, this list has it all. In no particular order, here are the greatest speeches, ever!



Known for his eccentric and enthusiastic approach, at the 2014 Oscar Awards, Matthew Mcconaughey delivered nothing less than magical with his Best Actor win for his role in Dallas Buys Club. He thanked his father who passed away for his guidance, he shared his main philosophy of 3 thing he needs every day. And he dug in to explain how he is always chasing his best self, and that he will probably never reach it, but elaborates saying that’s probably the best part of it! And then walked away thanking his family, wife and friends and finalizing with a very classy, yet charismatic alright, alright, alright!



WWE was never known for providing motivation, rather it was always about the entertainment. Never say never, and out of all the wrestlers, it happened to be the witty and wise cracking The Rock. Dwayne Johnson is known for giving a ton of advice, but not as his hilarious wrestling character. In this speech, he goes back to where he first began his career, and thanks the fans before telling them a huge lesson about not ever listening to the haters. You knock down doors, you kick down walls.



Possibly the most influential activist and even leader of all time, Martin Luther King Jr awoke the soul’s and mind’s of an entire nation that saw the world a lot different than when he came about and told them about his righteous views that we all have deep within us. This “I Have A Dream” speech is most likely the greatest speech ever give, and for great reason.



Angelina Jolie motivates the young crowd at the Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards. She urges them to be different like she was while growing up and in some way, still is. She tells the screaming kids “don’t fit in, don’t sit still, don’t ever try to be less than what you are.” Jolie has always been a great role model who tries to shake people up with a different angle. Jolie is an advocate of change and is constantly impacting the planet in a positive way, and for that we strongly salute her.



The legend himself, Robert De Niro spoke at the NYU Tisch School Of Arts and gave a very honest and pioneering speech about the power of passion and how to handle rejection. He didn’t sugar coat anything and was as straight up as it gets saying “You made it — and, you’re f—ed.” In a round about way, however, he stated how lawyers and med students would all have jobs after they were done school, where the arts students would have to handle a much more bumpy road. But nevertheless he was pleased to tell them about his own unique journey in an uncertain path and congratulated them with finding their life’s calling, which he claims is the very first most important step – and that the path is clear “not easy but clear” (in terms of you know what you want). De Niro discussed how rejection “can sting” but he elaborates on how he doesn’t believe it has anything to do with you personally and how it’s pretty much inevitable. He went into a story about some of the tough rejections he faced in the industry and how they pretty well made him stronger around the edges. This speech is highly entertaining as much as it is delightful and advising.



If your not familiar with this man, you should be, he is high flying energetic entrepreneur, marketing genius and public speaker. Gary Vaynerchuck never fails to deliver a powerful lesson, and this very short clip is nothing short of epic. He loves to get his audience to believe in themselves to the 9ths (like they should), and in this clip he states “There’s no doubt in my mind, that you are going to kill it!” But the real subject matter he wants you to ingrain in your mind, like the title suggests is to literally stop doing things that don’t align with who you are. He talks about how crucial it it to be patient and have passion and that in 2014 there is no reason you should be doing shit you hate. Gary strongly believes in what he says, to the point it almost irritates him to see that people still aren;t really convinced that they can do what they love.



One of the greatest directors and visionaries of our time, George Lucas sits down with the Academy Of Achievement breaks down why he believes he became so successful. A rare interview that most people have not seen, but should. Lucas tells the audience how he was an underachiever who hated school but loved to build things and loved working on cars. Eventually he would go with his childhood friend to a testing for an Arts school, he got in and passed the test. Lucas tells us how his father said “there will be no artist in this family, that’s a horrible way to make a living.” He admits that he didn’t even watch a lot of movies as a kid as he was from a small town with only one movie theatre. Lucas is very genuine in this speech about how he felt almost lucky enough to find his path. All in all, Lucas combined his many passions – social sciences, why we do what we do, anthropology, he wanted to build things, he loved to create, art, photography, which all led to making movies. He believes that the fact that he was always following things he enjoyed and felt a purpose towards which ultimately led to him finding his life’s grand passion and work. Because he cared about all those things, he believes that destinies course would have token it’s place and got him to the final destination of making movies -particularly Star Wars. In fact, George Lucas actually explains how each different route would literally have led him to his fate because he was always following his passions. As he states “So I think it’s very important not to do what your peers think you should do, not do what your parent think you should do or teachers, but to do what you inside- or even your culture thinks, but do what’s inside you.”



This voice-only speech captures one of the great leaders of Britain in his vortex, speaking , leading and motivating. In this speech of wisdom to Harrow School, Churchill gives a chill-down-your-spine talk, about the power of imagination, and never giving in, never, never, never, whether big nor small.



P. Diddy is never shy about motivating people to believe in themselves and achieve anything they’ve ever wanted. In this clip, it’s easy to see why Diddy has accumulated so much success, he’s super energetic, optimistic and you can totally see how he knows he deserves it. Diddy is strong minded about how powerful our beliefs are and he is clearly an excellent testament to it as he’s reached higher than possibly any other Hip Hop mogul. His story, his success and his energy are what make him a living legend. He delivers a great speech to the young graduates at Howard University as they are about to embark on a new journey and he leaves them with a hopeful angle “Close your eyes and dream then open your eyes and see.”  He would go on to finish his talk by speaking of his good friend Notorious B.I.G. quoting his famous words “the sky is the limit”.



Jimmy Valvano was the head coach of North Carolina State University, and he helped his team win the NCAA Basketball Tournament with extreme odds against them!  Shortly after winning, Jimmy gave this touching, enthusiastic ESPY Awards speech about how to live a fulfilling life, which is to every day, laugh, think, and cry. This speech was even more remarkable considering he was diagnosed with cancer but continued to be his well known enthusiastic self. Jimmy Valvano died of cancer 8 weeks after delivering this speech to the world. His final message was “Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.”



Possibly the greatest athlete of our time with the most decorated Olympic resume ever, and he is also the best swimmer in history. In this speech with www.Speaker.com Michael Phelps tells the tale of his journey and how he did things when he was not always comfortable. He tells the viewers that mental power is so crucial to attain victory in whatever endeavor. He elaborates on how the greatest athletes do things when they can overcome any mindset of being tired, soar or uncomfortable. Phelps gives many examples of how he himself sacrificed so much whether it was giving up high school dances or hanging out with friends. Michael Phelps did what knew he had to do to get the long term results he wanted. In short, Phelps sacrificed the now for the future, now he’s got over 20 gold medals.



Ashton Kutcher is widely known for his comedic character, although on some occasions, such as in this speech, he can give his share bit of advice and wisdom. In this clip of him at the Teen Choice Awards, he lays it down for the next generation touching on what he learned most prior to being a famous star. Kutcher elaborates on the 3 things that helped him get to where he is today. Opportunity, being sexy and living life. He believes opportunity is often disguised as hard work. He elaborated on how being sexy is about being really smart. The last one he claims to have learned recently, more so, from acting as Steve Jobs. He reiterates a scene from the movie – “everything that you call life was made up by someone no smarter than you!”. Ashton get’s his point thoroughly across and every teen in the stadium was screaming and cheering by the very end.



Famous Author, Neil Gaiman gives one of the best keynote commencement speeches we’ve heard. In the speech Gaiman talks about the importance of passion, failure and the many other lessons he learned along the way of achieving his dream of being a writer. He narrows in on the things he wished he knew prior to starting his career.



Bill Gates gives a humble speech on his experience in Harvard University, and how it led him to creating one of the most successful companies on the planet, Microsoft. He dropped out when he realized it wast serving him to his heart’s intention, so he and Paul Allen opted out to put their time into something that pulled them towards their desires. He states he’d work day and night to create the software since a company was expecting to see the software done in a month and Gates hadn’t even began it. Bill Gates‘ bold actions, and curious mindset led him to massive success. A true inspiration to motivate your dreams.



Judging from the title, your probably thinking this is a cynical message, actually quite the opposite. Economic professor Larry Smith gives us nothing but the truth in a pretty funny direct kind” of way. In simple, it’s because no matter how many times someone tells you to follow your passion, you just won’t do it! Instead, you will follow the familiar path and end up in one of those “high-stress, blood-sucking, soul-destroying” jobs. It’s almost cliché nowadays to hear the “follow your passion” talk, but Larry Smith gives it cold, hard and aims some powerful scenarios and questions directly at your heart. This is one of the wildest TED Talks video’s because he doesn’t shy away or beat around the bush on something we all know, but fail to find or seek.



As someone who awoke to his life’s calling, and as someone who has had many spiritual breakthrough’s, Jim Carrey understands how important the present moment is and how we make decisions based on love or fear. He urges people through a story of his father, an accountant, that love is what we need to follow, even more so, in terms of your career. He touches on how his father wanted to be a comedian, however, he chose accounting based on fear, and ended up getting laid off. Jim Carrey finished this extremely powerful and, for many, a life altering statement by closing with “you might fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well do something you love.”



Sandra Bullock tells a highschool graduation class her answer to a fairly deep question someone had asked her “If you could go back and talk to your younger self what would you say?”. She says that worrying was such a waste of time along with fearing the unknown, saying she wishes she could get all that time back. Bullock empowers, like she does in many of her films, and tells the teenagers to set the bar higher and ignore the people who want to see you fail, because “that’s their problem not yours”. Sandra Bullock gives the pinnacles piece of advice near the ending stating “go find your joy, whatever that is” as she reminds everyone that “it’s completely up to you, it’s what your going to remember in the end, your not going to remember how you worried, your not going to remember the what if’s or the why’s or who wronged you  it’s the joy that stay with you.” Sandra Bullock is a strong loving woman with a solid back bone for a foundation. She ends with a final sentence to pump the kids with strong beliefs “I want you to go save the world while your at it.”



Nick has an amazing spirit full of life and energy. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome which is a disease involving the absence of all four limbs. The rare disorder initially made him struggle a ton with all the judgement, confusion and negative feedback he would receive from others, but over time he found some key qualities that him turn his adversity into a strength. Today, he is a proud Christian and motivational speaker. In this heartfelt speech to a group of teenagers – he teacher and truly empowers them to find courage within. With humour and his natural be-himself persona, Nick inspires every single kid in the room, and probably every adult watching, to the point of tears – tears of joy of course. When life gave him a massive struggle he persevered and found an opportunity within it. Here’s Nick Vujicic’s awesome website http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/



Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston wins the Lead Actor at the 2014 Emmy’s and then narrows in on the importance of passion. As someone who went through many struggles in terms of his acting career before it really took off, he knows exactly how important, and exciting it is to follow your heart. He dedicates the award to all the other sneaky pete’s out in the world like himself and he strongly challenges people to not settle for mediocrity just because it’s safe. Cranston encourages everyone to “take a chance, take a risk, find that passion, rekindle it, fall in love all over again, it’s really worth it.”



When Russell Crowe played Maximus Decimus Meridius in the Gladiator, we got to witness not only a great movie, but we saw a character and a new promising actor come to life. He not only had great words of wisdom in the film itself, but also when he received the Oscar’s Best Actor Award where he delivered such an amusing and thoughtful speech. From the look in his eyes, and the words that he speaks, all you can feel is a deep sense of truth, courage and possibility, and he wanted everyone to know that hope is the answer to it all. He discusses how growing up in any suburb could make you think a dream like this “is ludicrous and unattainable”, as he continues to tell the audience that our visions are real saying “this moment is directly connected to those childhood imaginings.”



The owner of Primerica, Art Williams is an insurance executive who gave a very direct and cut to the chase speech. Rather than dig too deep, he lays it straight to the point and right on the surface. Take it how you will, but Art understands that excuses, fears and limits can and will always hold you back, but with 3 words which need to be transformed into action “just do it”, you won’t have to be a slave to your mind or circumstances. Straight out of the Nike dictionary, Art Williams gives a powerful in your face speech that makes you want to just do it!



“Stay hungry, stay foolish” were the wise words Steve Jobs combined to finish his Stanford speech, which was like passing the baton in a relay, from one generation to the next. He touched on his life events from being adopted, dropping out of college, getting fired from his own company and battling cancer. By the end, your left with some heavy thoughts about what legacy you really wish to create and how you want to impact the planet. Jobs has always been revolutionary in everything he pursues, including the way he put together a story, like he does in this commencement speech. And although he dropped out of Stanford University, he admits that the classes he took that he was actually interested in, ended up serving him almost miraculously in the long run. That class was typography which ironically gave him a ton of insight for his Apple computers, like Jobs states “you can’t connect the dots looking forward”.



Probably the greatest athlete ever, Michael Jordan gave his final speech during his hall of fame inductee speech in 2009 where he explained thoroughly his life story and some of the trials and tribulations he faced. A tearful Jordan thanked his family, friends, team-mates, coaches and even arch rivals for giving him all he could ever ask for. Of course, he also gave his words of wisdom that were truly inspiring. He admits with authority how he would do anything to win. One could think he’s being cocky, but what he really has is confidence, a strong confidence within himself that can’t be simply understood with just words or a look in the eyes. Nonethless, Jordan ends this powerful and amusing speech with one of his most prized quotes ever saying “limits like fears are just an illusion.”



Remembering a legend: at the 2012 College of Fine Arts, Leonard Nimoy gave an inspiring convocation speech. He will forever be remembered as the man who spoke some of the most famous lines in acting history “live long, and prosper.” Known for his hugely famous role as Mr. Spock in Star Wars, Nemoy did it all, from his first gig at 8 years old, to dropping out of school and getting odd jobs for well over 10 years before he got his well deserved shot at it. This is his story of perseverance and patience. This memorable speech was one of the last of his truly profound pieces of advice. “What goes around,comes around.” You are the creators and the curators of your own lives. You create your own life and your work. Give us your best. Give us the best of your art. We crave it. We hunger for it. Help us to see ourselves, to know ourselves. Illuminate our lives.” 



The visionary behind Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, gives us another great tale of fantasy, imagination and hope, but this one may be even better than any other story she’s old, because this one is the true story of her life and all that she had endured. Rowling is like that teacher we never had who was motherly and full of wisdom to share. She is so graceful in her ways and ironically comes across as some sort of wizard from another time. In this powerful speech, she tells us about all the tough times she faced – from being on welfare and taking care of a kid, all while traveling on a train and putting her ideas onto paper. She would create a magical masterpiece that would change the way kids dreamed. She discusses many virtues of reality, and of course the most real but unavoidable one about failure.  “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all— in which case, you fail by default.”