You're probably safe in using the terms, motivational speaking and inspirational speaking interchangeably since they share common goals, even if they are called different things.
A motivational speech is much less focused on content and learning of information, and more focused on attempting to energize, alter attitudes, instigate a new approach to something, to create a commitment to accomplish a common vision, etc.
It's purpose is to impact AFFECT, or the emotions.
Drawbacks To Motivational Talks
Unfortunately motivational speeches, even if done well, tend to have only short-term effects on emotion, particularly if the themes of the speech aren't reinforced in the workplace. So, sadly, the fees motivational speakers receive, and they can be quite high, are rarely justified in terms of return on investment.
Apart from the short term effects, there's a risk of creating additional cynicism if attendees have been to a number of motivational talks, but seen that despite the rah-rah stuff, nothing ever changes.
Characteristics of Effective Emotional Speaking
Since motivational talks need to target the emotions, they work best when:
- they include stories from real life that inspire.
- they are fast paced and energetic and include a lot of movement in front of the group, more obvious gestures, and a more emotional way of communicating.
- they focus on a very few themes during the session rather than many. For example, a single theme motivational speech could focus on "You can make a difference". Or, "welcome to the new era for our company".
- they use more absolute language and not waffle language. For example, if you presented to a research conference (a content based presentation), you'd use all kinds of qualifier words like sometimes, often, usually, and in some cases. In a motivational speech your words need to be much more definite.
In a motivational speech you are less interested in presenting various sides of issues, or even a balanced approach to things, except when necessary to establish and maintain credibility.