I can’t play football. Growing up I was always picked last and then put in goal (which I think was an incredibly stupid decision) but I love the energy of the game. I love the passion that footballers bring. If storytelling were a game of football and the goal was energy, there are some things you need to do to play that game and win every time. Here are 11 steps to make sure you are on your game, always.
Pick your pre-match tune and play it before you switch on your camera and maybe — just maybe — dance to it. No one will see but everyone will benefit from your joy. Here are my top five:
Squeeze your face tight and make your mouth as small as you can while saying the words ‘PRUNES’. Open your eyes and mouth as wide as you can while saying the words ‘BANANAS’. Do it again and make ‘PRUNES’ small and quiet and ‘BANANAS’ loud and high. If you are in a public setting mime the words in the bathroom.
To prepare your voice take a gentle breath in through your nose, keep your mouth closed and start to humm a nice ‘MMM’. As you are humming open your mouth to say ‘MMMMY NAME IS’ and say your name, nice and loud.
Repeat the ‘MMMMY NAME IS’ and smile when you say your name, pronouncing E-V-E-R-Y syllable.
Don’t wait for the meeting to officially start to say something. While people are entering the room ask them what they had for breakfast. This is like scoring the first goal against the opposition. For those who have joined during the conversation they will experience FOMO and want to join in. When they turn up late, call them by name and welcome them with your energy. Like this: ‘Great to see you Talitha, Jeremy was just telling us he had five Weetabix for breakfast this morning! What about you?’
Find yourself interesting. Most people speak like they don’t care about what they are saying. Actually find your content interesting and other people will.
Nod with your head when someone else is speaking. Not all the time — but to affirm what the person is saying.
Smile, outwardly — a lot more than you think. And when you speak, over-pronounce your words, just a little bit.
When you go to speak, at times playback what the other person has just said — like a brief summary. Use headlines to do it. It will generate more conversation, more energy. This is that moment on the pitch when your team mate is overwhelmed by the opposition and needs to pass to you. Let them pass. Take it on, score a goal and win the game.
Most people present like they are reading a long shopping list. Don’t do that. Speak in short sentences.
Emotion is the glue that holds everything together — so says my friend Richard Garnett. Use it. Whenever you can.