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Best Public Speakers: Phil Jackson

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Phil Jackson is a former professional basketball player, coach, and executive in the NBA. We identified Phil as one of the best public speakers because of the gravitas he displays in the weight and pace of his message and poise in his physical presence.

by Stephanie Bickel

best public speakers

The best public speakers event we reviewed: His conversation with John Salley about Michael Jordan.

Phil’s greatest public speaking skills:

  1. Credible voice and excellent vocal control: Phil does not immediately jump into responding to questions. He pauses and then articulates his message in a slow, controlled way. Phil also speaks in a deep, low-pitched voice and uses weight in his words to command the room. (1:19, 3:40)

  2. Physical poise and presence: He holds a still frame while seated and leans in while speaking. This shows he is comfortable in front of the audience and engaged in the discussion. (1:39, 2:05)

  3. Use of micro gestures: Phil uses a variety of micro gestures throughout his conversation. Adding even the slightest movement increases the connection to his message and further engages his listeners. (2:04, 2:54, 4:10, 4:22, 4:30)

  4. Storytelling and humor: He relives some of the discussions he had with Michael Jordan and tells comical anecdotes about some of their exchanges. That is what is most interesting and memorable! (2:10, 2:50, 4:00)

What Phil could do to improve his public speaking skills:

  1. Increase eye contact: Phil does not immediately look up when he speaks and looks down frequently throughout the conversation. To better connect with his audience, he should alternate eye contact with his interviewer and the audience as much as possible. (1:19, 1:44, 4:00)

  2. Eliminate filler words: He uses the filler words, “you know” and “what not”. Filler words can be a distraction to an audience, especially when used frequently in a short segment. Practice pausing to eliminate non-words. (1:34 - 1:54, 2:50)

  3. Increase vocal variety and energy: Phil’s consultative style lends to him being a trustworthy expert when it comes to the game of basketball. He could benefit from occasionally changing this vocal style and incorporating more grand gestures to match different messages. This will showcase his passion and energy and make him a more dynamic speaker. (throughout)


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