Some speakers come across as supremely confident and self-assured. They know what they're doing and they know what they're talking about, or at least it appears that way.
Robert Bly says in his article over at Entrepreneur.com, "The world's top professional speakers aren't nearly as good as you are."
What he means is that many professional speakers come across heavy on style and light on content.
I would take this a step further (and I have) and say that many professional motivational, sales and leadership speakers are also missing the emotional connection with the audience. Even if their content is okay, the audience walks away vaguely unsatisfied, forgetting the presentation within days.
Sure, a speaker can fake it. And plenty do, with over-the-top emotions, crocodile tears and "heartfelt" stories. But an audience can tell when a speaker isn't being real. It leaves them feeling a little dead inside.
If you want to motivate people and not come across as phony, you need to:
1. Know your stuff
2. Provide value, not just entertainment
3. Back up your statistics if you use them
4. Use your own original stories
5. Be able to answer questions in a straightforward manner
6. And most of all, build a relationship with the audience to support your style and substance
Don't let your confidence supercede your knowledge or your technique supercede your connection.
(Thanks to Andrew Dlugan for the heads up on the Bly article.)