Before we answer the question about the heavyweight boxer joining our Public Speaking Classes there is an important point to be made. The Anthony Joshua post-fight speech. Simply put, was uncomfortable viewing.
The ex-champion heavy-weight boxer lost a second time to the Ukrainian Alexander Usyk. What caused a stir was Joshua’s actions post-defeat where he grabbed the mic and starts an impromptu speech in the ring. The talk was disjointed, clearly emotive, and confusing.
However, it wasn’t the defeat that caused commotion but that fact many felt his words were mostly about himself. It was almost a eulogy, his struggles, efforts, and his journey! A sportsman-like, dignified talk might have chosen to place their focus and spotlight on the victor, recognise his opponent’s effort, be gentle and authentic in tone, and possibly briefer.
Whilst there may be many good reasons behind what happened, on the surface, Joshua’s tone appeared angry, he seemed frustrated and resentful. Despite the platitudes to his opponent (tagged on) at the end, it all felt a little insincere. The victorious boxer Usyk looked confused and everyone inside the ring including his own people seemed to be counting the seconds before the embarrassing tirade of words would end!
Like many a spectator, my knee-jerk reaction was to judge the heavyweights’ post-fight actions and do so harshly. As a Public Speaking Coach and Expert, I started to write about the dangers of incongruent communication. Speaking intent is an integral part of a great presentation that will amplify or destroy your talk. People don’t just hear your words they see and feel what you really mean when you speak. In Joshua’s case when he congratulated Usyk it came across as disjointed and insincere at best. His tone, body language, facial expressions, posturing, and choice of words all seemed to be protesting and saying the decision was wrong.
The incident reminded me of my own personal experiences of bombing as a best man despite saying the “right words” to zero impact all despite being a professional speaker of more than 15 years!
In my Joshua analysis, I drew a comparison with my own disaster story of delivering a best man speech at a British Asian wedding. The groom was not my best friend; however, I was naturally selected by him due to my speaking track record! He wanted a sophisticated talk to effectively a (less sophisticated audience) The majority of the audience were talking (shouting) to each other, the cutlery was clanging, babies crying, cultural barriers, language barriers, and the mic didn’t work!
His Instagram-influenced bride wanted the ‘perfect wedding with perfect speeches!’ …But despite every trick and technique, there was nothing I could do to stop this audience from grazing on those curries! It felt like the great migration by wildebeest between the Serengeti and Masa Mara…. Nothing would stop them! To compound it further, I had just broken up with my other half and the idea of happy couples being so in love was making me nauseous. The net effect was that my talk was completely incongruent. I was saying things I did not mean. My voice, words, my hands, my eyes all didn’t back my message I couldn’t smile. The difficult audience put my back up further and my tone was described as more doorman than best man! In other words, a speaking disaster!
The point is when you present make sure it is congruent i.e.: Speak from the Heart! (Unlike my best man speech and unlike Joshua’s post-defeat speech). However, after I had posted by article, it was getting social media traction. I did a U-turn. I ate my judgemental words. I retracted my comments and deleted the article and all my posts!
It was not because of wanting to hide my own speaking disaster but felt it inappropriate to exploit Joshua’s momentary failing.
Here I want to explain the deeper motivation to erase my ideas. And withhold sweeping judgment. Which are significant principles and deep-set values I hold dear and had failed to consider. Lessons learned through delivering life-changing Public Speaking Courses and Training that teach us to value the practice of compassion relevant to the presentation stage, the boxing ring, and fundamentally to life.
Despite the rights or wrongs of AJ’s post-fight behaviours and speech, there are deeper lessons for us especially if we find ourselves quick to judge. (After all, I know first-hand how easy a trap this is)
A foundation principle we reveal at all our Public Speaking Trainings is that most of us will fear Public Speaking because the fear is underpinned by the fear of judgment (by your audience). In other words, the perception that the audience can see through you and will deeply analyse your talk, your intent, and even your character -when you are on stage!
Almost in parallel most professional boxers (we work with a few pros) tell us the greatest fear is not getting hit but the fear of judgment by your audience post-fight, fear that they will critique your performance, your character and in turn shape your future. And it is this uncanny parallel between Public Speaking and Boxing that begins to reveal why these two modern-day gladiatorial arenas invoke such a primal reaction.
So back to the point of not reverting to fast judgment. The moral argument is that being human means we get stuff wrong. Most of us will never truly know nor understand the true pressures that Joshua may have been under, taking away a lifetime of dedication and service because of stage imperfection feels disproportionate. There are many moral arguments here. But beyond the moral discussions, and regardless of your views our public speaker classes and executive coaching teaches us a long-standing principle. A principle that is drilled as a ground rule for everyone at every level of the speaking journey.
When you walk into a Public Speaking Class, we advise that mistakes WILL happen and that it is ok. You will be imperfect, and so will others, but it is ok. We also critically add that a safe environment is critical for progress. And the foundation of safety means we do not judge others as we are all on our own journeys.
The upshot of the fundamental ground rule is we can create Public Speaking Classes that are truly transformative. Without judgment we allow other people to explore, make mistakes, grow and experience outside of their comfort zones.
The even more significant lesson is that individuals learn the benefits of compassionate judgment. Meaning that seeing the best in others even in the dark moments mean we are instantly more compassionate with ourselves. Being judgemental invites a harsher inner critic and when you choose compassion judgment you turn your inner critic into an inner coach.
This enlightening and mature approach to others becomes a beneficial habit not just for them but for you to exist in a happier more wholesome way.
Yes, Anthony Joshua made an error post-fight, does that take away all his accolades and contribution? I sincerely think not.
And finally, is Joshua taking Public Speaking Classes?
I’d suggest firstly that he is more suited to our bespoke Public Speaking Coaching offering in order to refine and amplify what he has.
Secondly, I’d say he has some serious lessons to share, and a story to tell!
And finally, say with absolute certainty there is a lucrative Speaking career waiting for you!