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The Importance of Setting the Tone and Tempo

Have you ever gone to a meeting or talk and found your attention switching off in a matter of seconds? Maybe you’ve been given a task or job to complete and the way you was given it didn’t inspire you to perform, or the other way around, perhaps you was the one who gave an instruction and found that it wasn’t followed?

The reasons behind these examples and many others, can come down to setting the tone and tempo of the environment, which translates to setting the tone of your workplace. In Episode No.12 of the ‘Developing Your Football World’ Podcast, I used the example of setting the tone and tempo with my son when taking him out to play, and how it links into coaching and teaching. The concept being - if you can deliver a message with the right tone, enthusiasm, detail, charisma and professionalism needed for the situation, more often than not your message will be well received, resulting in the desired outcome or performance.

This concept can be used for many situations when needing to lead or manage people of different ages and abilities. You may be delivering a speech and need to capture the audience’s attention and imagination in the first few seconds with an opening line such as;

‘ Yesterday I made £100,000 in 3 hours and today I’m going to share with you all exactly how I did it’ (said in an upbeat, confident and powerful tone whilst controlling the stage and looking straight into the eyes of the audience) …

Instead of turning off their attention and sending them to sleep with a;

‘ Hello my name is bob and I’m from a small village called Rauceby in England, where I have lived for 8 years. Thank you for coming today so I can share with you some main points of how to make £100,000 in 3 hours’ (with a monotone voice whilst reading from a power point presentation)…

It’s all about the delivery and within the first few seconds of that delivery, your tone and tempo will help your audience decide if they are going to allow themselves to engage or not.

Now the audience mentioned above could quite easily be your players or staff and your job is to get them to ‘buy in’ to what you are telling them, or to have them follow instructions. As soon as you walk into a room or onto the grass ready to coach, your body language is already setting the tone and your audience will consciously and sub-consciously replicate your energy – ‘Show Energy’ being one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘Rules of Success’.

The coaches working at Active Kidz Shanghai, one of the biggest kids’ sports provision providers in the city of Shanghai, have to adapt their tone and tempo depending what levels they are working with; recreational participants are needing to be supported to merely stay interested in the sport, whilst the competitive players are needing to be inspired to develop and improve their skills for matches and competition.

The Head Coach of an adult, professional team may need to set the tempo in a different style but when all is said and done, every age and ability group needs to have the tone and tempo set and it is the execution and delivery, which will decide what will happen next both in the short term and longer term. Watch the video below how André Villas-Boas tries to keep the tempo upbeat in his training session with Zenit...

 Not everyone naturally has an energetic and upbeat personality and it certainly doesn’t mean we have to walk around wearing a fake smile, but what we must do, is find a balance with what we are comfortable with and adapt our characteristics to still get the desired effect of creating an energised environment.

Keep these in mind to help you set a positive tone and tempo;

- Use confident and positive body language. This will help if you are not a natural bubbly personality or lack charisma

- Aim to grab attention and give inspiration in the first seconds

- Be energetic without being confusing and stay consistent

- Be real and ensure to balance the use of energy at specifically needed times

- Detach yourself from your personal mood if feeling negative

- Use quality words with more detail and meaning instead of too many words to add fluff to a sentence

- Enjoy what you do. If you can’t’ then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it

- Reinforce points with change in spoken tone and/or by clapping hands (or another action to emphasise a point)

- show your personality (if you believe it’s a strength) if you think something was done well then tell them... ‘love it’….

More importantly than anything else……


Be yourself 

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