Speaking Tips From Jocks

So many speakers have so many different speaking styles. How do you know what might resonate with your audience?


In Jock Talk: 5 Communication Principles for Leaders as Exemplified by Legends of the Sports World, Beth Noymer Levine draws as much from her decades of experience in high-level corporate communications as from world-class athletes — who, she writes, “inadvertently end up being society’s public-speaking guinea pigs, heroes, and fallen heroes.”

It’s the public-comment examples of athletes, coaches, and team owners — both good and bad — that put meat on the bones in Levine’s breezy communications handbook. Excerpted from Jock Talk, here are her five principles for establishing a credible, likeable, and memorable speaking style:

1. Audience centricity is about making the audience’s interests and experience a top priority in the planning and execution of a talk. Too many speakers prepare and deliver what is important and interesting to themselves without enough careful consideration of their listeners.

2. Transparency means being open, direct, and honest. It contributes to the levels of sincerity and trust that are accorded to you by your audience.

3. Graciousness is the art, skill, and willingness to be kind-hearted, fair, and polite. Speaking in positives rather than negatives leaves lasting, favorable impressions.

4. Brevity — getting quickly to the point — makes it much easier for your audience to remember what you said.

5. Preparedness speaks for itself, especially because the unprepared speaker is the one who is most likely to be longwinded — not to mention unfocused. While the mere thought of preparation might bring on feelings of dread, there are ways to prepare that take only seconds but that can greatly enhance a speaker’s effectiveness.

Convene Editors