Public Speaking for Professional Athletes, Pt I

When it comes to communicating off of the field,  the professional athlete faces a major dilemma– a constant flurry of opportunities to speak, and very little, if any, formal training on how to handle those opportunities.

Unfortunately, as can be witnessed on any evening news program, or on ESPN throughout the day, athletes, who put so much time, dedication, practice and preparation into their chosen craft, do exactly the opposite before appearing in front of the camera.

This post, the first in a series, will address one of the most common mistakes professional athletes make when being interviewed on, or off, the field:

1. Please, slow down when you speak, as well as AN-NUN-CI-ATE!

One of the greatest commercials of all time is the Federal Express spot starring John Moschitta as a corporate executive who speaks at such a blistering pace he is very humorous.  However, it is nearly impossible to follow and all too common in how athletes communicate, especially when approached by a reporter immediately at the conclusion of an event.

While you may not speak at this breakneck speed, odds are that you do speak at a rapid pace. Most of us do. There is great interest in what you have to say, the reason why the all of the microphones are in front of you in the first place. You need people to really hear what you have to say, but in order to do that you must give them an opportunity to.  Take a deep breathe, gather your thoughts, and then speak – slowly.

Speaking too rapidly is a major communications no-no, as is speaking to softly and slurring is another.  The event is over, you left everything you had out there, and all of a sudden the media gaggle is upon you.  You are sore, the evening hasn’t been great, and you really don’t feel like talking.  Understandable – but not to the thousands (or millions) who are watching the interview clip for the entire weekend where it was impossible to understand what you said!

Stay tuned for Pt. II….

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7 Responses to “Public Speaking for Professional Athletes, Pt I”

  1. Matt:

    You are correct, and it points out why the ability to communicate is one of the greatest skills people can have.

    You can be an expert in your chosen field. But if you’re unable to express yourself well in front of an audience, many of the ideas and information you want to give your audience won’t be communicated.

    They won’t ‘Get It!’


  2. Matt,

    Thats a great point, you can see it in post game press conferences. Those that have been doing it for a while are calm and collected, even relaxed when speaking. Its always funny to see non-stars get media coverage after a good game or performance and they just don’t seem as comfortable as a Kobe or Peyton in front of the mic.


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