Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Elements of Speech & the Superbowl Pre-game Talk

This week, the Baltimore Ravens meet the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. One of these teams boasts the player who has what may be the most emotional pre-game speech/dance combination in NFL history. I'm speaking of the Ravens' Ray Lewis. Ray's  pre-game activities could be a valid artifact for communications and speech classes - it seems to be perfect for talking about occasion and the place of emotion in speech-making.

But what about all those weeks when Ray was injured? Did you ever wonder who did the pre-game speeches during his absence? Well Sports Friends offers a humorous take on that situation. In this (fictional?) situation Ray Rice approaches Joe Flacco to give the speech, and the results are a sort of Communications/Speech Class workshop on what NOT to do. I played this clip for my class and asked them to respond with comments on what went wrong with Joe's attempts - and to suggest fixes.

Watch the clip and see what you think.

Some student responses were:
  • " Joe shouldn't have shown that he was nervous and that he wasn't happy about giving the speech."
  • "To make his speech more effective, Joe should have used more passionate words that male sports men can relate to and that trigger the right emotions. Sentences like, 'You only have this one moment to show that you are powerful, that you have worked, sweated and bled to achieve success.'"
  • "He started quoting a movie that no one would know. He should consider his audience and what they would watch."
  • "Joe was referencing things his audience couldn't relate with. To be more effective he should have related more to his audience by referencing things he knew they were familiar with..."
  • "Joe was not enthusiastic enough to boost the morale of his teammates..."
  • "He didn't need to introduce himself to people who already knew him."
 You might build on these and other comments to talk about ethos, pathos, logos, kairos, audience, culturally-sensitive speech (the last remarks crossed the anti-semitic line, ouch.)

And, depending on the outcome of the game, you might let the students guess whether Joe or Ray Lewis gave the pre-game talk.

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