BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Speaking out. Kriss Akabusi, Former Olympic athlete

BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Speaking out. Kriss Akabusi, Former Olympic athlete - I've always been suspicious of sports people trying to carve out a second career on the speaking circuit. I've seen some entertaining speakers at cricket a

by KHALID AZIZ, chairman of spoken communications specialist theAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I've always been suspicious of sports people trying to carve out a second career on the speaking circuit. I've seen some entertaining speakers at cricket and rugby dinners, but it's a tall order for former sports stars to add value to a management conference. So how would Olympic silver medallist Kriss Akabusi fare in front of healthcare professionals? They'd sat through an hour of stuff about healthcare rationing in the NHS and needed a lift, but how would they respond?

Akabusi soon had them engaged, with his high-energy delivery and self-mocking yarns - easy to do if you are a high achiever. He was brought up in a children's home. 'I left school with nine No-levels - the only time I had a glowing report was when I set fire to it.' He was telling his life story and it was clearly a tale he had told before, but he managed to nod in the direction of his audience's interest area.

He had his own acronym for success: FIT (focus, innovation, teamwork).

This last element provided the high-spot of his 50-minute talk - a video of the British team winning the 4 x 400 metres world championship in 1991.

They took on the Americans through teamwork. Breaking with convention, they put their best man - Roger Black - first, leaving their worst - Akabusi - to run the baton over the line. Akabusi overlaid the David Coleman commentary with a live one of his own. When the Brits stole it at the very end, there was still a cheer from an electrified audience 10 years on.

Key moment: The sight of his Olympic silver medal created a frisson - a perfectly timed use of a great prop.

Key lesson: Tell your story like it is - warts and all. An audience's heart will go out to you.

Tags:
How To

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today