Confident or arrogant? Charismatic or vulgar? Inspirational or embarrassing? Whatever your feelings about Conor McGregor, the Irish combat fighter is without doubt a top-class communicator. But what makes him so? With millions of fans hanging on his every word, it has to be worth exploring further. Here are six things Conor McGregor does right when he gets in front of an audience.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
I was in my hairdressers a few years ago, having the “holiday conversation”.
You know the one? Where did you go, where did she go, etc.
So she told me she was just back from Vegas, where she was supporting her friend Conor McGregor at a boxing event. Back then I had no idea who he was, so she explained.
A few years later, and Conor McGregor is probably Ireland’s biggest export! He has made world success, riches, fame and power (and one hell of a swagger).
There is no question he is hugely successful at what he does for a living – although I’m still not sure exactly what that is. Something in a cage with very few rules, which all looks a bit nasty!
In 2017 McGregor got into a Las Vegas ring to fight the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather. Even making that fight was an incredible achievement in itself, given that the American was seen as an all-time great, unbeaten after 49 fights, and McGregor had never fought a professional boxing match before and was moving across from the world of Mixed Martial Arts for the occasion.
Three press conferences with 50,000 people in attendance – it’s impressive!
When was the last time three press conferences had an attendance of close to 50,000 people, with millions more tuning in online? Not ever, I expect.
I happened to be passing a television during the live London “McGregor v Mayweather” press conference and got lured in. (McGregor gets the microphone at around 16 minutes…)
So, from this press conference, what is it about Conor McGregor from a communication perspective that seems to engage and capture people? Let’s take this press conference and try and break it down.
You might even pick up a trick or two. You may not like him, but hold the thought.
1. Conor McGregor Shows up Authentically
Conor McGregor is truly and unapologetically himself, unfiltered. Whether or not you are a fan of him, the reality is that any audience will connect and engage with people who are truly themselves.
Yes, there is certainly showmanship, but there is no denying that what you see is what you get. When you deliver a business presentation, how authentic are you with your audience? Or do you drop into “presenter mode”?
Because, from my experience, so many do.
2. Conor McGregor Oozes Vocal Confidence
If you place your personal opinion of his “message to the world” aside for a moment, you cannot avoid the fact that he is incredibly focused on what he is saying.
It is delivered with absolute confidence and conviction. There is more often than not composure to his delivery. And dare I say it, with the exception a few questionable consonant misplacements, there is clarity in his delivery!
He has great use of pause, pace, vocal range. Whatever the result of their actual bout in the ring a few weeks later, here on the stage he simply outshines his “co-performer” Mr Mayweather. He “owns his space” vocally. I’m not saying shouting and aggression makes a great communicator, but I believe there are strong qualities to his delivery that are worth being aware of.
As people presenting in a business context know, vocal confidence is key. How often do you sit through presentations listening to a presenter delivering a monotonous, lifeless presentation and wishing you were somewhere else? Vocal confidence is not only key it is essential to succeed in business communication.
3. The McGregor Speaking Equation: Energy + Performance = Excitement
McGregor simply has bucket loads of energy and excitement – both physically and vocally. He understands that for public speaking engagements – he needs to raise his game in terms of energy. Yes, lots of shouting (which I’m not advocating), but he’s speaking to his audience, and the audience in his case are not complaining.
What can I say, he’s a performer and his has a captive audience. As a communicator, he elicits a state of energy within his audience.
And you know what?
Energy is contagious. Watch how he can lift his audience into a state of excitement, watch how he can equally enrage them seemingly so easily. He understands that he has the ability (and responsibility) to instil emotion or energy in the audience.
An audience wants to be entertained, and part of the entertainment comes from a presenter’s ability to evoke emotional states within the audience.
There is no denying McGregor can achieve this.
All too often presenters give little consideration to emotion in their presentation, in other words how you want your audience to feel within business presentations is ignored.
4. He Encourages Audience Participation
Watch how the audience follow his commands.
These commands are delivered very clearly, simply and with passion. If an audience is ♦following commands from a speaker, it means they are listening, it means they are following a presenter, it means the presenter has strong rapport with his audience. McGregor, is in control, he is leading his audience.
As he gives commands to his audience, he builds strong rapport. It would be interesting to study his language further, from a NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) perspective.
5. He *Loves* His Audience (Almost As Much As He Loves Himself!)
Conor McGregor’s messaging is tailored precisely for his audience. He speaks to his audience in their language.
He wants them to be part of the show. He includes them. His audience is at the heart of his messaging all the time and they love it.
Let me ask you this.
How tailored is your message for your audience?
Do you keep your audience at the heart of everything you say?
If you are appalled by Conor McGregor’s message and language and style, guess what?
You are not his chosen audience!
6. He Is Clearly Massively Prepared
I suspect that Conor McGregor practices, rehearses and hones everything he does until he feels confident.
He focuses this mind on a successful outcome and eliminates any self-limiting beliefs.
I have no doubt he prepares for success when he’s communicating too. That is evidenced by everything about his performance above.
When you are preparing for an important sales pitch or upcoming presentation, what is your preparation strategy for success?
Do you have one?
I would urge you to look at Conor McGregor at little closer.
If you don’t like him, that’s ok. Lots of people don’t!
But you can still learn from him and study what he is doing.
Maybe don’t replicate exactly everything about his delivery—I probably don’t need to say that!—but do create your own unique style by doing the following.
- Present with Authenticity
- Build Your Vocal Confidence
- Bring Energy to Your Performance
- Encourage Some Audience Interactivity
- Know (and Love!) Your Audience
- Prepare for Success
Conor McGregor is captivating millions of people the world over, so he is worthy of studying from a communication perspective.
And have fun doing it!
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ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.