Public Speaking Ability and Leadership. Lessons from a 16 year old Soccer Player

After soccer training recently, my 16 year old grandson called the team together when the coach had completed the session. My grandson then spoke to the team of how they had performed poorly in the previous two games and he told them what they needed to do to address this form slump.

He identified three fundamental changes that the team needed to make in order to improve their performances.

Now this is not simply a grandpa showing pride in his grandson – well yes I am but the message is more than that. My grandson is one of three team captains and, as a leader, he knows that speaking up, strongly and with clear messages, is what a leader does.

Leadership Quality Number Whatever

There are many qualities that identify an effective leader. An ability to clearly convey messages to the team be it a sporting team, a corporate team or a social group strongly identifies someone as a leader, not simply a manager.

I have seen many examples of individuals holding leadership positions who are incapable of standing before the teams they lead and conveying important messages clearly and succinctly.

Many of these individuals believe that delivering the message is a simple process of writing down the messages and then reading them to the team. Or worse still, preparing a PowerPoint presentation for the team to watch and read. WRONG!

This process is managing, not leading. So how do leaders deliver the spoken messages?

Obvious Belief and Passion

The team that is hearing important messages must be convinced that the leader believes in the messages and they must also hear the leader’s passion for the messages.

If the team is not convinced of the leader’s passion and belief, they simply won’t act how the leader wants them to act.

The leader achieves this position of belief and passion through the delivery methods they employ. They must begin with a clear understanding of what messages they wish to convey. My grandson’s examples of three key points is a good approach to adopt.

The delivery will successfully convey the passion and belief of the leader through the use of skills everyone can learn. These skills include using voice modulation, emphasis, tone and pitch, as well as pausing throughout to allow the team to absorb the messages. Leaders don’t simply read a script.

A great example of these skills in a leader is what has come to be known as the “Get Out” speech delivered by then Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison.

I am sure that after hearing that speech, serving members at all levels of the Army were in no doubt what was expected from them. And if they did not wish to comply, then they should leave – simple and clear. And there wasn’t a PowerPoint slide to be seen.

These skills may be attained by almost anyone wishing to learn. Without them however we see and hear managers, not leaders. Which do you want to be? Leader or manager? It’s all in the delivery.

Ray Hartley

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