This has been a big week for laughs in the Premier League. Remember Antonio Conte’s deflection of media questions about Diego Costa by getting a fit of the giggles. It was a clever, calculated move to take the pressure off the situation which has damaged his camp. The heat is off after the subsequent win over Spurs at Wembley.
And this morning I saw yesterday’s Jurgen Klopp press conference and how he absorbed the questioning over Phillippe Coutinho and hit back with a funny line about how he would welcome the Brazilian back into the fold if the Barcelona move does not go through. He did it with humour, with a smile, with a clever line… and you cannot help but like that guy.
Klopp does what Jose Mourinho used to do when he was winning everything at Chelsea. The smile is genuine, the smile is powerful and it draws your audience in. There is no doubt that Jurgen Klopp has received a kinder press because of the relationship he has with the media. He is likeable, loveable even!
You may say to me that Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman etc don’t need to smile or laugh their way through media grillings. Not yet, but the time will come when there is controversy for both to deal with, and they would do well to take a leaf out of Conte and Klopp’s book.
As people, we admire those who are human, normal, like you and me. It’s not natural to be so straightforward, businesslike all the time. I think of some of the most charismatic business people I admire like Sir Richard Branson and the smile is his trademark. How great is it when you see managers, CEOs, players even, looking like they love their job – and that is what a laugh or a smile does. It also softens difficult questions, it draws in the audience.
This is why some of my past golf clients Andrew “Beef” Johnston and Andy Sullivan are so respected in the media – good or bad round, they interact with the fans, they smile, they know they are lucky to be golf pros and they look like they are appreciating the fans spending hard earned cash on watching them. Beef rarely lets down any requests for a selfie, or an autograph. He has become a trailblazer for the European Tour and their quest to grow the game with youngsters.
Smiling or laughing does not mean you are not professional. It’s a key to communication and this is a trick I will continue to coach in my workshops… because it is so effective. Whatever your business, sport or not, try it in team meetings, management focus groups, speeches, presentations. You will be amazed the effect it has.