Friday, June 5, 2015

Public Speaking 101

TigerBlog pulled off of 95 onto Route 1 at about 6:25 this morning.

He was on his way to Jadwin Gym, where he was meeting up with TigerBlog Jr. and his buddy Matthew. Those two are doing their summer strength and conditioning programs before heading off to college lacrosse, and TB was willing to move his workout up a few hours so Matthew could get to school on time. He still has a week left.

The two of them are making TigerBlog feel good about himself, what with how much stronger he is than they are and all. Sure, they can run faster. They can run period, which makes them faster than TigerBlog.

So the edge in conditioning goes to youth. The edge in strength goes to age. Unfortunately for TB, they're on a 12-week program, and they'll zoom by him by Week 5 or so. Hey, let him enjoy it for now.

Anyway, when TigerBlog was on the ramp to Route 1, the car in front of him had a big "Dallas Cowboys" sticker on the back.

Of course, TB wanted to honk his horn and get the driver's attention and say "hey, buddy, go to the Princeton website and check out Jason Garrett's speech from the banquet last week."

Garrett's speech was a tremendous mix of humor and inspiration. TigerBlog has heard all kinds of public speakers, and by far the best are politicians and coaches.

What is the common ground about those two professions? TigerBlog supposes that it's either the need to inspire your constituents to achieve your goals (voters or players, legislation or victories) and perhaps the fact that speaking in front of groups becomes just second nature.

The other thing about those two professions in terms of public speaking is that it's easy to spot the phoniness.

The best public speaker TigerBlog has ever heard? That's easy. He's heard this person speak to a group of 25 and a group of 10,000 or so, and he blew the room away both times.

Who is it?

Dick Vitale.

As insufferable as he came to be on television, Vitale's ability to capture a room was incredible.

TigerBlog saw him speak at the Meadowlands Arena in 1997, when Princeton was playing in the Jimmy V. Classic against Wake Forest (the Tigers won 69-64; not only does TB remembers the score without having to look, he also remembers he had an awful cold that night).

He thought Gabe Lewullis led Princeton in scoring, but it was actually current assistant coach Brian Earl, who had 18. Current head coach Mitch Henderson had 14 points and nine assists with two turnovers. Both played all 40 minutes.

Two other Tigers were in double figures as well - Steve Goodrich with 17 and Lewullis with 12.

Anyway, the event was a doubleheader, and Vitale spoke between games, stood out at midcourt with a microphone in his hand.

He talked about his friendship with Jim Valvano, who had died of cancer and who was the namesake for the tournament. He talked about members of his family and other friends who had been touched by cancer.

He spoke from the heart, and he did so in such a way that made everyone there feel like he was talking directly to them. He was riveting.

And a former coach.

As for Princeton coaches, the best public speaker TB has seen is also the second-best one that he's seen. That would be Pete Carril, the former men's basketball coach.

Carril doesn't have Vitale's in-your-face charisma as a speaker. His strength was his ability to weave his personal experiences and humble beginnings into really big-picture messages, all with really subtle humor - sometimes not so subtle - and a very soft, understated delivery.

There have been other really good public speakers here. Carril is the best. TigerBlog has seen him be on so many times, but maybe his best was one nobody really remembers.

It was at one of the few Ivy League basketball media days, an actual media day. It was at the Palestra. When it was time for Carril to speak, he talked about the building and how his father had helped make the steel for the rafters. It was great.

As for Garrett, he is way, way up there. Last week was the first time TB had heard him speak in a public setting like that, and he was great.

Here are links to what he had to say. TigerBlog's favorite is the first one, "Grab the Mantle of Leadership."

“Grab the Mantle of Leadership”
“Mental Toughness and the Navy Seals”
“Best Way to Live Your Life”
“Life is about the Run”

Public speaking isn't easy. Try to hard to be funny and you fall flat. Have no message and everyone tunes you out. Most importantly, you need to know your audience, which in itself is a challenge.

TigerBlog has seen surveys that say more people are afraid of speaking in public than dying, though he's not so sure about that.

Anyway, TigerBlog gives Jason Garrett an "A" for his effort last week. Don't believe TB?

Watch for yourself.

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