We always talk with the speakers we coach about the importance of delivery. We help them see the job that your voice and your non-verbal communications can do to reinforce your authenticity or take away from the words you deliver and the impact of your message.
It was the first week of my SPCH 201 class at Winthrop when an example fell into my lap.
Urban Meyer Incident Background
The Ohio State Head Football Coach, Urban Meyer, was placed on administrative leave on August 1 while the University conducted an independent review of how much Meyer knew (and when he knew) about domestic violence and other misconduct allegations against an assistant coach.
On Wednesday, August 22, results of the review were presented to the OSU President and Board of Trustees. After a lengthy meeting, they announced a three-game suspension for Urban Meyer and a similar suspension for athletic director, Gene Smith.
Shortly after that there was a press conference with statements from President Michael Drake, Gene Smith and Urban Meyer.
Let’s Do an Experiment, Read the Transcript of Meyer’s Statement
Compare the Statement to the Video
Do the Words and the Delivery Match?
My students said (by the way, most did not know about the situation, but at least one student knew and provided the background to the rest of the class):
“He’s not sorry.”
I responded, “What makes you say that? He said he was sorry.”
They had a lot to say about that.
“His body language said he wasn’t.”
“He didn’t make eye contact.”
“He never apologized to the victim.”
“He was monotone.”
“He read the statement.”
“It was like he didn’t write it, and he didn’t believe it.”
Meyer was universally criticized in the sports and news media for his statement. The experts had the same evaluation that my students did. They, unlike my students, knew that Meyer can be a charismatic speaker. They also knew that he has a large ego that was insulted by questions about his judgement and character. But you did not have to know that to have a harsh evaluation of his press conference appearance. His response to questions during the question and answer portion of the press conference did nothing, but reinforce those views.
Since that time, Meyer has taken to Twitter numerous times (1) (2) to apologize for his apology (that’s never a good sign). Before his return to the field as coach on September 22, he participated in an on-camera interview with ESPN and a press conference, all roundly criticized. Credibility lost with most everyone, but the Buckeye faithful.
Sometimes you can learn from a bad example.