Friday entailed a couple of virtual press conferences during which new head coaches were introduced. Each one included a key figure who opted to read from prepared remarks.
It didn’t work. It never works. It seems stiff and rigid and robotic and unnatural. It’s no replacement for speaking from the heart, with the words that come to the G.M. or the coach in the moment.
Coaches speak without notes or statements all the time. There’s no reason for a coach — especially when he’s making his first impression to a fan base — to risk turning his press conference into an SNL skit.
And if a crutch is needed (especially for General Managers, who don’t speak publicly as often as coaches do), it doesn’t have to be a book report. Put five key words on a card. Your brain and your mouth will fill in the rest.
More broadly, where are the specialists or consultants who would work with coaches or General Managers to help them create the most effective presentation? These are billion-dollar companies and people who have risen to the highest levels of their chosen professions; the ability to speak effectively should be a given. Notes shouldn’t be needed. Statements definitely aren’t needed.
Besides, it’s not what these folks say as much as how they say it. Yes, certain key subjects may require a specific message, like the quarterback situations in both cities. But if the G.M. or the coach can’t stay on message when speaking to reporters as part of the introductory statement, how can they be expected to stay on message when answering questions?
Indeed, when the question-and-answer portion of the press conference arrives, the coach and/or General Manager answer without a script, without notes, without rehearsal. Why, then, don’t they simply show up in the first place and project a simple and clear opening message that exudes confidence, competence, and conviction?
There’s no magic to it. Keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it authentic. Basically, keep it anything but how it comes off when reading from prepared remarks.