Does a Speech Make a Difference

On March 3, 1993, former basketball coach of Rutgers, Iona and North Carolina State, Jim Valvano gave a speech now known as the "Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up" speech. At the time Coach Valvano was battling a much progressed stage of cancer and amazed his friends by simply being able to get to the podium. The speech was broadcasted live on ESPN and served the purpose of announcing the creation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

During the speech, the coach recalled his first locker room pep talk. He told the story of how he studied the drama and skill of the great Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi. At the time, Coach Jim Valvano was a young 20 something coaching freshman boys basketball at Rutgers University. He mastered the simple presentation given by Lombardi just moments before the team would take the field. Vince Lombardi would bust through doors of the locker room in front of prepared players awaiting his instruction. "We will be successful if we focus on three things. 1.) Your Family. 2.) Your Religion. 3.) The Green Bay Packers!" After those words the Packers would storm the field and play inspired football.

Jim Valvano was convinced this would work for his Rutgers basketball team. He kept the team waiting before his first game as coach. Eventually "Coach V" pushed open the doors and proclaimed "We will be successful if we focus on three things, 1.) Your Family. 2.) Your Religion. 3.) The Green Bay Packers!" After telling this humorous anecdote the animated basketball coach shared his formula for life that included laughter, thinking and tears. The audience was riveted, those that were present, those that viewed through their pre-hd televisions, and those that have viewed this speech over the past 23 years.

It was less than a month after Coach Jim Valvano delivered the "Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up" motivational talk that he passed away. Since that speech, the V Foundation for Cancer Research has provided over $100 million in grants for cancer research.

Here are my two questions for you.

  1. Do you believe that a speech can make a difference? If you are suspicious that the spoken word, well presented, does not make an impact, allow me to offer these phrases: 

    "Give me liberty, or give me death"

    "Four score and seven years ago"

    "I have a dream"

  2. When was the last time you offered a high impact speech? Let me know if I can help you become an engaging speaker and prepare a talk that will make a difference.

Photo Credit: ESPN Aug, 26, 2015 http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=11222515