Winning Messages from a Super Bowl Coach

What did I re-learn about messaging from a football coach?

That simple messages combined with repetition cause audiences to take action. At least they did for the Pittsburgh Steelers, winner of the last Super Bowl.

In a pre-Super Bowl story in USA Today (“Having a sway with words”), Steelers head coach Mike  Tomlin said, “I try to capture a concept, an idea or a moment in a few words.”

Some of Tomlin’s favorite phrases:

“Iron sharpens iron.”
“The time’s coming when we’re going to have to ante up and kick in like men.”
“It’s a 5-star game because we’re in it.”
“I’ll tolerate you until I can replace you.”

The messages get through to his players. About the “iron” saying, one player said, “I’ve probably heard that one at least 150 times—this year. It’s kind of monotonous, but we get the point.”

What does Coach Tomlin know that’s a good reminder for all professional communicators?

“People aren’t very good listeners, by nature,” he said. “Part of being a good communicator is recognizing and understanding that and trying to make the complex simple.”