Those of you who know me know that I’m a huge Oakland A’s fan. Well, last night’s baseball game between the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers left even me—a speech coach—speechless. Picture this: It’s game 4 of the American League Division Series. The Oakland A’s aren’t the favored team to win. In fact, they’re performing terribly. It’s the bottom of the ninth. The score is tied. The A’s are up to bat. It’s the final moments of the game, and then suddenly…against the odds…the A’s win on Coco Crisp's walk-off single. The crowd went wild! And so did the announcers. You can hear the announcers during the exhilarating final moments here. After the excitement died down and I replayed the footage in my head, I realized how the announcers Ken Korach, who does the play-by-play, and Ray Fosse, who does the color commentary, displayed their passion about the outcome yet maintained their professionalism throughout it all. It’s a classic lesson for public speakers everywhere.
I often tell my clients to let their passion guide their speaking. But really…what are the elements of passion? What does passion sound like from that vocal context?
As the clip of Korach and Fosse exemplifies, passion has two key parts. First, it’s the formal, technical, and mannered play-by-play of information. When you listen to Korach explain what’s going on, you hear every detail to the point where you can see it in your mind. It’s factual. It’s complete.
But the second part of passion is the free and unbridled response to what’s going on in the moment. That part of passion is incredibly clear in Fosse’s animated assessment of what’s happening in those key moments.
So as a speaker, you need to manage the characteristics of these two announcers during every presentation. You need to be the formal person with the details and the facts. But you also need to show your excitement, your enthusiasm, your zeal, and your passion for your topic.
It’s the combination of these two qualities in one person that ignites the spark of passion. That’s what ultimately captures the hearts and minds of your listeners and makes your message come alive.
The final game in this series is tonight. If the A’s win, we keep going on the road to the World Series. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my passion alive. Go A’s!