Vin Scully, the longtime announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who died yesterday at the age of 94, left behind some important lessons in communication and leadership for corporate executives.
“Vin Scully’s grace, class, storytelling ability and extensive baseball knowledge are unquestionable. But it was his sense of confidence, lacking ego, that I think resonated with so many and serves as a lesson for business leaders,” said Dick Grove, CEO and founder of INK Public Relations, via email.
“Vin didn’t mince his words and was sure of what was coming out of his mouth before he spoke. If he were to talk about a personal experience, he would either belittle himself or sideline himself to focus on others, which only elevated his status,” Grove noted.
“If a big moment happened in a game, he would let the moment live on its own. He was sure enough to know that the noise of the crowd and [the] the reaction of the players could tell the story best. Vin was never seen as a “know it all” even though he did know it all. He shared. He didn’t lecture.”
“It’s safe to say that ego is alive and well in the C-suite. But for leaders to inspire trust, it must be a two-way street. There has to be the kind of safety where being curious and really listening to feedback is at play. Humility is a form of strength. Arrogance is a form of weakness. I think Vin Scully epitomized humility as well as any announcer who ever lived. With this he inspired and won the trust of his audience. Two aspects of leadership that are crucial,” Grove noted.
“Quite simply, Vin Scully was the greatest of all time. The communication skills he mastered and showed the world provide lessons not only for future broadcasters, but also for executives and senior managers and organizations everywhere,” he said.
Scully “has capitalized on his innate ability to tell stories,” according to Steve Turner, owner of Solomon Turner PR. “The attention to detail and the way the words were woven together put Vin at the top of his game. I have tried to follow this direction in working with clients to improve their storytelling and communication skills for marketing and public relations purposes.
“Vin would connect events from the past, from 30, 40, even 50 years ago, and make it relevant to today’s audience and broadcast. Weaving these stories into short, clear and colorful sentences is a true art. It’s something we learned from Mr. Scully and think about often to help our clients prepare for media interviews and other stories,” said Turner.
Matt Eventoff, founder of Princeton Public Speaking, said via email that the following communication lessons from Scully are particularly relevant to business leaders.
The Power of Imagery
“His use of all five senses and his words made you feel like you were living the moment with him.”
Understand your audience
“Vin was talking to everybody, all the time. And he knew it. All his plain language and game explanations [were] accessible to a first-time listener or a seasoned veteran. And he always did it with sensitivity, kindness and a little self-deprecating humor. He didn’t take himself too seriously and always [admitted] but he made a mistake. Invaluable lessons for any communicator.”
Key tone, intonation and inflection
“Telling a story with just your voice requires a mastery of tone and inflection to create almost verbal accents. Any executive can do this. This means more than just sending your message! It means understanding your audience and using your voice to generate an emotional response and keep your audience engaged. The executive can do this all the time when I emphasize key words and key concepts, and create space before and after so that the audience can fully absorb them.”
“This lesson [applies] for drivers who can use silence and pause in the same way [Scully did] Allow your audience to really process the messages you’re sending,” Eventoff concluded.