March Madness: How to Motivate Like a Pro Athlete

March Madness is here! The Public Speaker shows us how to give a great motivational “pre-game” speech.

Lisa B. Marshall,
April 4, 2014
Episode #245

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Tip #4: Repeat Key Words to Make them Stick

Lewis wants to motivate the team to give their best effort. How does he do it? He repeats the word "effort" multiple times:

"Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge effort. Effort is between you and you. Effort ain’t got nothing to do with nobody else."

If this team walks away remembering one thing, it will probably be the word “effort.”

Tip #5: Back up Your Words with Body Language

If you get a chance, watch the video of this speech and pay attention to Ray Lewis’s body language. His arms move with his words. When he gives a word emphasis, his hands do too. As his voice picks up in intensity, so do his body movements. You could even argue that his hand gestures and body language are even more motivational than his words.

Tip #6: Use the Rule of 3

"Forget everything else. Forget everything else. Forget that there was any sunlight left."

If you’re a fan of The Public Speaker show, you know the importance I place on the rule of 3. Ray Lewis apparently knows it too. Using the rule of 3 gives your speech a natural rhythm. It can make your words seem lyrical.

Lewis uses three phrases in a row that start with the word “forget.” This is an excellent use of the rule of 3. It also uses a figure of speech known as “anaphora.” Anaphora means to start two or more phrases in a row with the same word.

Tip #7: Vary Your Pitch, Volume, and Speed

If you watch the video, you’ll see how Lewis uses variations in pitch, volume, and speed to change the tone of his message. When he begins, his pitch is low, his volume is quiet, and his speed is slow. By the end, his pitch, volume, and speed have all increased dramatically. This gradual vocal build-up is how you build the energy of your listener. 

Tip #8: Keep it Short

I mentioned before that I watched several different motivational speeches. Since I was watching them on YouTube, I could see the length of the speech. I kept looking for something longer than 1-3 minutes, but I couldn’t find anything.

Then it hit me: Motivational speeches need to be short.

A 1-3 minute speech is really about all you can expect a team to listen to right before a big game or just before a big event at work. As public speakers, we can learn a lot from half-time speeches or locker room talks. If you haven’t watched the Ray Lewis video yet, you can find it here. Now, good luck with your March Madness bracket!

This is Lisa B. Marshall, Helping you maximize sales, manage perceptions, and enhance leadership through keynotes, workshops, books, and online courses. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

Have you listend to my new podcast, Smart Talk?  If not why not?  I wnt to strongly encourage you to head on over to smarttalksuccess.com.  This past week I interviewed Dan Schawbel and Linda Descano. Dan and I talked about early career development and Linda and I talked about later career development. Linda is a very senior leader at Citi and Dan is a bestselling author.  Listen to Smart Talk: Inspiring Conversation with Exceptional People by visiting  smarttalksuccess.com


Ray Lewis' speech to Stanford basketball team 

Transcript of Ray Lewis’ speech


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