Football fans know Tom Brady can throw a perfect spiral. They might not realize he can also deliver a very good speech. His teammates on Tampa Bay know it. One player said that leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl, “He was making us believe we could win.”
After Brady led Tampa Bay to a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs (Brady’s seventh Super Bowl title), some of Brady’s past speeches have been going viral on TikTok and social media platforms.
The speeches offer two valuable public-speaking tips for anyone who wants to motivate others to perform their best.
1). Tell an origin story with a broader message.
Audiences love the underdog. They’re attracted to stories of people who were counted out, but believed in themselves and rose to victory. The key to a good story, though, is to tie it into a message that’s bigger than yourself.
The challenges Brady had to overcome in his college and the NFL career fit the template of a great origin story, and he ties the story to a broader message.
For example, Brady gave a virtual commencement speech in 2020 to high-school graduates at Connecticut’s Forman School, a college prep-school for those with learning disabilities.
Brady’s theme was learning from adversity.
He started the speech by looking back at his own high-school graduation 25 years earlier. Despite his passion to play football in college, he was not a highly desirable recruit.
“I was the seventh quarterback on [Michigan’s] depth chart. Number seven, if you can imagine that. I never thought I’d get an opportunity to play,” Brady said.
Brady didn’t play in his first year. When he finally got the opportunity to take the field in the fourth quarter of a game in his second year, he threw an interception which a defensive lineman ran 45 yards to score a touchdown.
In his third year, Brady hit another obstacle.
He “fought really hard” to become the starting quarterback, but failed. He played backup instead.
This is where Brady applies the story to the class. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Brady learned from others–coaches and the starting quarterback. They taught him how to be a great leader and to earn the trust of his teammates.
Brady told the class, “Your future is going to be what you make of it because you’re not going to be able to rely on people to do things for you.” Anyone who wants to achieve something great, he added, will faces obstacles and challenges but, ultimately, they are responsible for what they achieve.
A good origin story isn’t one long success. It has disappointments and setbacks. It should end with a transformation that offers a lesson for the wider audience.
2. Add impact with your vocal delivery and body language.
In 2013, Brady dropped into the Michigan locker room to deliver a pep talk to the team. An ESPN reporter said the speech was so electric that “it must have given the Wolverines goosebumps and want to run through walls for each other.”
Once again, Brady reached for his origin story:
“I didn’t have an easy experience [at Michigan], I didn’t come in as a top-rated recruit. I didn’t come in with the opportunity to play right away, I had to earn it.”
In a stirring excerpt from the speech that’s circulating on social media this week, Brady said it was a great honor to be named team captain in his fourth year.
Brady used his voice and body language to hammer the message home.
“To this day it is the single greatest achievement I’ve ever had as a football player,” he said.
While delivering the line, Brady made a fist with his right hand and punched the palm of his left. He did so six times as he spoke the words: this day-single-greatest-achievement-I’ve ever had-as a football player.
The sound of his fist striking his palm six times added to the emotional impact of the story.
As Brady continued, his voice grew louder with each mention of the word, “knew:”
“These were the guys that knew that I liked to work, that knew that I loved football, that knew that I loved to play, that knew that I wanted to be the quarterback for Michigan.”
As a speaker Brady understands that how he delivers a message matter as much, if not more, than the actual words.
There’s no doubt that Brady has seen a lot of motivational speeches over thirty years of playing football. He’s picked up some of their best communication techniques.