How Can a Sports Team Improve Your Speech?
I’m a lifelong fan of baseball, as well as the art of giving a speech. What do the two have in common?
The team I grew up following – and cheering for – is the Cincinnati Reds.
The last 2-1/2 seasons have been difficult for Reds fans. After having a moderate level of success in the early part of this decade, they’ve fallen on hard times.
Last year, in particular, was difficult. Team ownership made the decision to trade away some of the best (and most popular) players.
Because the team was losing a lot more than they were winning. The organization decided it was time to start fresh, with new and younger players.
When teams take this approach, it’s usually painful in the short-run. Success is measured by wins and losses. Cobbling together a new group of players who play well together can take several years.
This is never an easy choice. Frequent losing creates frustrated fans. This can mean lower ticket sales, less revenue, and lowered expectations.
Despite the short-term pain, there can be hope. In the Reds case, they’ve brought young, exciting players to the team. At times, they show signs that the future could be bright.
The lesson from sport is that, at times, you have to re-boot and start anew.
How Your Speech is Like a Sports Team
The same is true with public speaking.
There are times when you may need to discard a presentation. At one time, your talk may have been fresh, but now it isn’t. Your message may have had an impact on you, but now it doesn’t. Your enthusiasm for the subject may have been great, but now it’s gone.
How do you know?
Your audience is always the best judge. Their response may be unenthusiastic or negative. If so, it may be time to either restructure the material or replace it.
Please don’t misunderstand. My suggestion isn’t to rid yourself of old speeches. My mentors taught me the importance of testing new material. Do it several times before discarding it.
The same can be true of presentations you’ve used for years. Use new stories, add new supporting data, or insert new actives. These can help you determine if your talk can improved.
If you find that it can’t, then it may be time to take a page from the sports world, and re-boot. Just like with a team starting over, remember that there will be early struggles.
Testing stories, trying out new humor, or structuring the core message can be challenging.
But, it can also be exciting. New material can bring a new and positive energy. The challenge of making it work can be motivating. The potential for the impact it could have on others can give you hope.
You may be feeling stuck with presentation that no longer inspire you or your audience. If so, it may be time to consider making a change. It might be just what you need to create more meaningful messages.
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