No, I don’t want to send the boy to the corner for rough driving. Being lucky enough to have had an exceptional seat at the sixth edition of the exciting NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, I am brimming with views as to “Sliced Bread’s” white flag antics – but heck, the media has covered that adequately during this last week.
The title of this article refers to Mr. Logano’s lack of communication awareness. First off, the question Dick Bergren asked was, “Do you think that that the penalty NASCAR handed out was fair or not.” The young pilot of the #08 Camping World Series race car never addressed that question adequately, which is why the interviewer asked the same question twice.
Mr. Logano is moving ahead to the cup series next year where his opportunities to hurt or help himself via the media will escalate considerably. With as much time and money that has been spent to prepare Mr. Logano for his NASCAR career, it was unexpected how little skill he appeared to hold in the art of communication.
Being a skilled communicator is even more vital now than it was in the past. That is why it is critical, each time you speak, that you sell your ideas to your audience. You must connect both intellectually and emotionally with them.*
Logano’s interview did neither. Good advice to him, and all racecar drivers, would be to take some time out of your busy schedule to prepare yourself before speaking to the media. Learn to listen and hear what is being asked. Then take a moment and prepare your answer to insure that the question is dealt with professionally. If you cannot answer the question, acknowledge that you understand the question but the answer is not available.
Each answer should be a mini-speech with a beginning, middle and end. You don’t have to answer every question in lengthy detail, but you should remain positive. Take some time away from the track to practice bridging (answering questions, then refocusing by bridging to your message). *
From Mr. Logano’s interview, the message I remember is, “It is what it is.” There was nothing said about his crew, his sponsors, or his car owner. Mr. Logano’s interview did not grab the audience. Further and more importantly it did not sway the fans to support him.
Understandably, it must be extremely difficult to remain positive and enthusiastic after being disqualified; however doing so is an essential part of the job. Mr. Logano could have positively manipulated that interview by quickly answering Mr. Bergren’s question and moving forward to the upbeat aspects of his on-track performance during the showdown. There certainly were highlights there to remind the fans about. The effective speaker must remember that the listener will most likely only retain that last thing said – so make sure it is the best affirmative message you have to offer.
That being said, Joey Logano is just eighteen years old and will have plenty of interactions with the media. Hopefully he realizes the magnitude of the media in his future and takes a “time-out” to prepare himself to become a better representative for himself, his team and his sponsors.
*Borrowed from “Coach’s Communication Playbook” by Kathleen Hessert – A successful action plan for getting through to athletes, the public, the media and more.