What do motivational speakers have in common with star athletes?
I never considered this question until recently. Then the comparsion dawned on me. Here’s what happened:
I’m watching my son play on his varsity high school basketball team, but in this particular game his team is flaking out. They can’t score. They can’t rebound. They can’t even pass without the ball being intercepted.
The problem is there’s this big guy on the other team. You can’t see his face because it’s covered by an intimidating mask, the kind you wear when you want to protect a nose or a cheekbone. All you can see is his height, which is much larger than the other players and his arms, which spread like giant wings.
Oh, and he speaks English with an accent – one that sounds eastern European. All that’s certain is this masked, tall, wide-armed dominating player is killing it on the court. He’s a one-man team.
He does exactly what I strive to do on my court of play, the main stage at an important national conference. It’s my job on that stage as a speaker to enlighten, entertain and educate an audience, to help them get better at what they do.
A motivational speaker has to be the big man or woman at center court, with arms stretched out wide, doing everything, scoring, rebounding, stealing the ball. The single most dominating player in the room.
Oh, and that mask? That’s the mask of tragedy or comedy, the mask worn by a theatrical speaker who assumes roles, tells stories, brings out great surprises. But it must be a mask of authenticity and not deceit. That’s the only way to score in the motivational speaking business.
Former boxing champ Mike Tyson is the latest example of an athlete who becomes a motivational speaker.