BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Speaking out Sir Steve Redgrave, Olympic Rower

BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Speaking out Sir Steve Redgrave, Olympic Rower - Who could have failed to be moved by Steve Redgrave winning his fifth gold in Sydney? But while there is no doubting his athletics prowess, he is not a natural

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Who could have failed to be moved by Steve Redgrave winning his fifth gold in Sydney? But while there is no doubting his athletics prowess, he is not a natural speaker.

Not that he doesn't try. He attempted to wow an audience of communications and corporate travel executives by drawing analogies between the world of business and the lonely, dedicated life of a top athlete: goal-setting, discipline, hard work, etc. We could relate to that. Less easy to relate to was his off-the-cuff delivery, which was rambling, unrehearsed and boring.

There were glimpses of potential brilliance. He touched a part of us all by confessing that during training sessions he and Matthew Pinsent used to hide from their coach behind an island in the Thames. This nearly cost them the world championships - when they were almost pipped on the line, Pinsent is alleged to have said: 'We're never going to hide behind that island again!'

Redgrave is trying to raise pounds 5 million for children's charities, so his heart is in the right place. But he could do much better. When it comes to speaking, perhaps a little goal-setting, discipline and hard work might not go amiss. And - dare I say it? - he could do with a good coach, one that will ensure he doesn't hide behind the island.

Key moment: Until 1984 he received just pounds 300 a year support. Now, thanks to the lottery, rising young athletes can receive up to pounds 20,000 a year.

Key learning point: Excellence in one discipline does not make you a speaker. Your audiences will be more tolerant - but don't push them too far.

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