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Art of the Pep Talk: A Leader Communication that Inspires

Updated: Dec 3, 2020


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What is the art of the pep talk? A good leader communication motivates. An effective pep talk inspires, spurring not fear but empowerment. Ensuring completed work is not enough. Putting on a happy face and a positive spin may backfire if it is perceived as fake or ignoring reality. How does one motivate without inducing anxiety? How does one instill positive energy without eliciting eye-rolls?

Audiences and situations vary, but you can master the art of the pep talk using these leadership communication skills.



1. Pain Point

You have a situation on your hands. If you didn’t, a pep talk wouldn’t be necessary. Do not sugar coat it. Start out by keeping it real and focus on your audience. It’s not about your pain, the company’s pain, or anyone but your audience’s pain that we need to address. What problems are affecting your team? What is the team’s pain? Why is it hard for them? Name it, describe it, briefly, and with empathy.

“I know morale is down after that round of layoffs. You now need to do more with less and you miss your colleagues.”

"Last week was hard. I know you all put in extra hours and are sleep deprived.”

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2. Action

After empathy, get straight to the solution. Let them know what they need to do immediately. Whether they need time to get used to the idea or simply need fear of the unknown alleviated, give them their direction next.

“We need to do the hard work, and be open and patient with one another as we adjust”

“We need to be strong—strong for each other, strong for our teams”

3. Value

Values carry us through difficulty. When situations are chaotic, values give us clarity. When opposition is daunting, values provide courage. Use language related to values to help meet the team’s fears, doubts, and discouragement. “Remain disciplined. There is one trait that makes the difference between good and great. That trait is discipline. Discipline makes champions. We are not average. It is this sacrifice and push through the pain that yields the growth that will pave our future. We play to win. Our peers and competition will not be able to do it. “