Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manager of Manchester United Football Club, recently gave a talk to academics at the Harvard Business School.
Ferguson, who has recently clocked up 26 years in charge at Old Trafford where he has won an astonishing 37 trophies, was invited to Harvard to talk about the secrets of his success.
One of the things he was quoted as saying was about his pre-match team talk;
“I once heard a coach start with ‘This must be the 1000th team talk I’ve had with you,’ and saw a player quickly responding with ‘And I’ve slept through half of them!‘
So I like to tell different stories, and use my imagination. Generally, it is about our expectations, their belief in themselves, and their trust in each other.
I remember going to see Andrea Bocelli, the opera singer. I had never been to a classical concert in my life. But I am watching this and thinking about the coordination and the teamwork, one starts and one stops, just fantastic. So I spoke to my players about the orchestra – how they are a perfect team.”
So, there you have it. One of the secrets of Sir Alex Ferguson’s success. He keeps his players interest, makes what he says memorable, and connects emotionally with them before every game by telling stories.