Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Michael Jordan Hall of Fame Speech

As one of the most popular athletes of all time, Michael Jordan's speech is a worthwhile reference for the aspiring public speaker. It's a fascinating blend of insights, subtle tension, and elements that relate to the process of becoming a capable, confident speaker.Copy and paste this link to check it out:

Pspeak learning content-related observations:

Establishing goals and motivation for giving the presentation: Jordan had every reason to be motivated to give this speech. He was being honored with induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was a special moment for him to be acknowledged by a gathering of his peers and colleagues. It’s evident from the outset of his presentation how important the moment is to him.

Picking a passionate subject: Jordan speaks about his love for the game and his fond memories of being a competitive basketball player. He is so passionate about the subject that one gets the impression he could talk about it all night if he really wanted to.

Sharing a unique perspective with the audience: Jordan goes as far as to tell the audience that he intentionally wants to share a unique perspective with them by asking out loud “What can I tell you about me that you don’t already know?” He then shares lesser-known details about his life and career that endear and surprise the audience and even cause a little tension as the audience begins to wonder if he will say anything too revealing. He comes close to doing so, and in fact his speech was panned by certain critics as being a revenge speech against others who had come up against him during his career since he gave a great deal of personal insight. More on that below.

Acknowledgments: Jordan opens with immediate acknowledgment of the audience, the event, and key people. He repeats this theme throughout the presentation, ensuring that the audience gets the message that he greatly appreciates the honor.

To read, or not to read: Jordan uses an extemporaneous style of speaking for most of his speech. To prepare for this he appears to have written down names and perhaps notes on small pieces of paper as opposed to writing out a full speech. He does read from a pre-written speech towards the very end of the presentation, and that section is well written. As for the extemporaneous sections, he does a nice job of recalling interesting moments and experiences from his career that the audience responds well to.

Using Humor: Jordan uses humor successfully in an appropriate, well-timed and well-paced manner throughout the presentation with the exception of one moment where an attempt at humor comes off somewhat mean-spirited.

How to Present: When it comes to body language, “MJ” doesn’t project high energy, but he does project a casual, confident aura. He seems unrushed. He moves his hands to make his point at times throughout his presentation. He rarely uses the word “um” or other non-words, although he does use the non-word “um” as the very first (non) word he speaks. He repeatedly makes eye contact with and addresses specific individuals in the audience which effectively engages their attention.

Length of Speech: At around 23 minutes Jordan’s speech was probably the perfect length. It needed to be long enough since many of the attendees paid a lot of money to be present on the occasion, including to hear him speak, and because the occasion warranted it. However, if he had gone on much longer it might have become too long.

Was the speech successful? As mentioned above, some critics panned this speech as Jordan trying to gain revenge on those who doubted or challenged him through his career, and it was said that Jordan shouldn’t have used the occasion to vent that type of personal vendetta, especially considering that he should have cast aside any insecurities long ago due to his enormous success both on the court and off.

However, to the majority of viewers (as indicated by the ratings ratio of “thumbs up” to “thumbs down”) and to Pspeak Jordan’s speech was successful. This is likely due to the occasion, his track record, his words and delivery, and the fact that the speech didn’t consist of pleasantries and platitudes. Jordan took a risk, as he often did in his career, by rising to the challenge of being thrust into a spotlight which required him telling his audience, and the sporting world and beyond, who he is as a person.

Jordan gave the audience exactly what they really wanted: A view into the mind of a man who became the greatest basketball player of all time and one of the most successful and recognizable athletes from any sport in history. What some of the audience saw when they were given a glimpse into that heart and mind may have scared or offended them to some extent; Jordan is far more competitive than the average person.

Such extremity may have been too much for those without such a mindset to handle, perhaps it felt alien and selfish to them. Regardless, because Jordan’s speech garnered so much attention, prompted so much debate, got such a reaction from his audience, and gave the audience a view into his mind and soul when that was what the occasion called for, his presentation must be considered a major success.