If you’re looking for something to help you get motivated for life, check out these ten fantastic inspirational speeches that are free to watch on YouTube.
Today, we’re counting down ten amazing motivational speeches about life that you need to watch. With speeches for students, speeches for entrepreneurs, and everyone in between, this list includes positive motivation for all.
From valuable life lessons covering all aspects of life to incredible stories from successful people talking about their journey to success, these amazing speeches are sure to make you feel positive and uplifted.
So, if you need a burst of motivation, let these powerful speeches act as your source of inspiration today.
10. Randy Pausch: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams 2007 – a beautiful last lecture
Kicking off our list of motivational speeches about life is this beautiful speech from American educator Randy Pausch, who knew at the time that he only had a few months left to live.
Rather than feeling hard done by due and delivering a sad speech, Pausch remains positive, delivering an inspiring speech to his listeners. He speaks of the things he values in life, making the most of our time here, achieving his childhood dreams, and offering inspiration for how we can, too.
9. David Foster Wallace: This Is Water 2005 – questioning our own perceptions
In his 2005 speech ‘This is Water’, David Foster Wallace questions conventions and encourages us to recognise our own closed-mindedness.
He says, “If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important, if you want to operate on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable.
“But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you’ll know you have other options.”
8. Steve Jobs: 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech – inspiration from one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs
Steve Jobs’ inspirational speech for students at Stanford in 2005 gives an insight into the life of one of the most successful business leaders in recent history.
A pioneer of the personal computer revolution and a co-founder of Apple Inc., it is hard to imagine Jobs as anything but successful. However, this uplifting speech gives an insight into his setbacks and journey to success, including his determination to follow his passion.
Jobs encourages students to keep moving forward with what they love, despite challenges in life, rather than overthinking whether they’re on the right path.
7. ’20 Seconds of Insane Courage’ from We Bought a Zoo – amazing things will happen
In the heartwarming 2011 film, We Bought a Zoo, Matt Damon’s character Benjamin Mee tells his son that the best things come when we act with courage.
We all have fears. However, all fear does is hold us back, so his advice to his son to try a manageable “20 seconds of insane courage” is something we can all resonate with.
6. Matthew McConaughey: University of Houston Speech 2018 – finding joy in the process
The much-loved actor, known for his roles in films such as Interstellar and Dallas Buyers Club, spokeat the University of Houston back in 2018.
In the 40-minute speech for students, McConaghy talks about the importance of finding joy in the entire journey rather than focusing on reaching the next level of success.
He explains that by adopting a “constant approach” and focusing on enjoying the everyday act of creating and doing, he was able to find true success.
5. J.K. Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination 2008 – the benefits of failure
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has faced her fair share of controversy in recent years. However, there is no denying that her 2008 speech on the benefits of failure is one of the most motivational speeches about life.
Speaking at the Harvard Commencement Ceremony in 2008, the author of the bestselling book series explained how both failure and imagination are crucial to success.
4. ‘Your Move Chief’ from Good Will Hunting – the importance of real-life experience
In the 1997 Oscar-winning film Good Will Hunting, Dr Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) explains to Will Hunting (Matt Damon) the importance of real-life experience.
Hunting, who has proven his intelligence and has read many books, feels that he knows all there is to know about life. However, Maguire’s key teaching to the young man is that the things you learn from life experience are much more valuable than anything you can learn from a book.
3. Sheryl Sandberg: Harvard Business School Class Day Speech 2012 – wise words from one of the most successful women in America
Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most successful women in America. She is an entrepreneur, tech executive, and author who is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.
In her 2012 Harvard Business School Class Day Speech, Sandberg offers some useful advice to graduating students. As well as offering insight into her own work, she advises students that “motivation comes from working on things that we care about.”
2. Denzel Washington: Fall Forward 2016 – reframing failure
Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, actor Denzel Washington talks about the importance of taking risks and accepting failure as part of the journey.
He explains that everyone fails and makes mistakes in life. So, the most important thing is that when you fall, fall forward. Make the most of every setback as a chance to learn and improve. Just get back up and try again.
1. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability 2013 – the most-watched Ted Talk on YouTube
Topping our list of motivational speeches about life is Brené Brown’s 2013 Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability.
In her speech, which is now the most-watched Ted Talk on YouTube, Brown talks about the importance of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to live life to the fullest, embrace true connection, and allow us to go through life as our most authentic selves.
Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius 2009: Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert gave this inspiring speech about tapping into our inner creativity in 2009. Watch: HERE
Michelle Obama: EKU Commencement Address 2013: Perhaps one of the most inspiring women in the world, former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the 2013 graduating class at EKU about always questioning our own perceptions and transforming our weaknesses into strengths. Watch: HERE
FAQs about the motivational speeches about life
What are some inspiring quotes?
You can find some of our favourite inspiring quotes here.
What are the best speeches for students?
Denzel Washington’s Fall Forward speech is one of our favourite speeches for students.
What to do to motivate yourself?
Some great things to do to motivate yourself are writing down your goals, setting out manageable steps to achieve them, speaking to others who inspire you, and creating a vision board.