In the final installment of our series celebrating the new Becoming a Rockstar Instructor course, we learn about verbal delivery skills from the world’s best Spinning® instructors!
Creating a perfect ride that inspires students and unlocks their true fitness potential is an art. But crafting the perfect ride and actually delivering it are two very different tasks. Great instructors use techniques to heighten the physical and psychological responses in students that will enhance their focus, boost their willpower, and help them push through the challenges ahead.
With the new Becoming a Rockstar Instructor course, we wanted to enable every Spinning® instructor to become the best coach, mentor and motivator that they can be. With this new certification, instructors take home new information about coaching, class design and music that they can apply to classes immediately. But the ability to communicate this knowledge is what separates a good instructor from a great instructor. It is the distinguishing mark of an expert coach – it’s all about delivery!
It’s time to explore what makes world-class presenters so exciting and effective. After all, Spinning instructors are essentially public speakers; we just happen to do it on a bike! How can Spinning instructors learn from the world of public speaking? How can we adopt world-class skills to deliver truly awe-inspiring classes every day in every facility around the globe? It’s time to consider the impact of our words…
Defining Vocal Impact
The verbal techniques used to communicate with an audience are what we call “vocal impact.” This term essentially means that information is received clearly enough to have an effect on listeners. No matter what language or dialect is spoken, vocal impact is influenced by the proficiency in three areas: speech vocalization, verbal delivery and technical microphone skills.
Becoming a Rockstar Instructor examines all three of these areas in detail, but today, we’ll delve deep into just one aspect of vocal impact, the part that takes you in front of audience; that’s verbal delivery.
Find Your Voice
Masterful verbal delivery has three main components – clarity, brevity and diversity. While speech vocalization covers the conception speech, verbal delivery looks at how that is language is imparted to the audience. The union of these three components enables a fluid and powerful verbal communication to your students.
Let’s look at these three components in detail:
Clarity can be summed up in one phase: “Say what you mean.” Be concise in your language selection so that your instructions are clean and clear. When we consider that students have different learning styles – some are visual learners, some are auditory learners and some are kinesthetic learners – it is imperative that Spinning instructors are succinct and clear in their language choices because information can be received differently by students.
For instance, look at this sample cue:
“Come to a place on the bike where you feel comfortable.”
This cue may be received two completely different ways. An individual who leans toward mental or emotional responses might translate that cue to: “Clear your mind to find comfort on your journey.” But a rider who responds in a more physical fashion might interpret the cue this way: “Adjust your position on the bike until you feel comfortable.” How can we ensure that the intentions of the original cue were communicated well?
Let’s explore this cue again and assess what can be more specific to convey your intended purpose or action. Since this cue is meant to instruct students to fine-tune how they are physically positioned on the bike, it can be rephrased:
“Ensure that your sit bones are on the wide part of the saddle for optimal comfort.”
Specific vocabulary is vital for clarity. There are many ways to widen your language library. Read works by sports authors, study the stories of influential athletes and observe the language of professional coaches. One of the easiest ways to learn new language choices and get new ideas is by simply taking other instructors’ classes. There is a wealth of information that can be shared among your peers; you’ll be amazed at the injection of new life into your own classes simply by experiencing other instructors’ sessions.
Brevity refers to the succinct and accurate nature of our speech. It is the art of using few words and staying concise while still conveying the intended meaning. Coaching is an occupation based on speaking, and we depend on our voices in order to work. Verbosity, however, means using a lot of words that deliver very little meaning, and it is a habit that even the best public speakers and coaches have difficulty breaking.
For brevity to be possible, you must have clarity of thought first. It begins with a clear understanding of our instruction, which may have numerous words associated with it. In order to find the best way to verbalize it with clarity, choose the best words to align with the intended message, then reduce the number of words only to those that are absolutely necessary.
Here is an example of implementing brevity:
Verbose: I want you to feel empty so that you can allow your body and mind to start to connect and begin the emotional journey with no obstacles in the way.
Brief: Remove all distractions from your mind to create a clear pathway.
Knowing when to speak is another important aspect of brevity. Taking specific pauses and planning out vocal breaks will allow your students time to contemplate and actually act on your cues. Periods of silence are opportunities for riders to hear, assimilate and then implement instructions from the coach. With these moments, you can also feel more confident about your language choices because you’ve given yourself the time to filter through any unnecessary words.
Diversity, the last variable for effective verbal delivery, means injecting our common phrases and cues with variety to help reach wide variety of students. As we noted earlier, individuals learn differently, whether it’s auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Creating a variety of cues to deliver an instruction will help ensure that you reach more students, and it will help eliminate monotony when repeating certain cues over and over again.
Here are some more examples of using diversity. Let’s take some commonly used cues and find a few different ways of saying them.
“Feel the music.”
- “Immerse yourself in rhythm.”
- “Allow the guitar to drive your pace.”
- “Embrace your own dance.”
- “Surround your body with the drums.”
- “Unwind. Unleash. Uncover your natural rhythm.”
- “Marry music and movement.”
- “Let the sounds lift you!”
Consider the different levels of students in class. Language needs to be constructed to reach everyone, from the new rider to the seasoned exerciser and everyone in between. Experienced riders are comfortable with terms like cadence, Energy Zone® and lactate threshold, but new riders may need to be gradually introduced to the cycling world and Spinning vocabulary.
Visualization and the use of metaphors and similes can be effective methods to diversify your language and make it readily understandable for new students. When constructing visualization or figurative cues, ensure that the language has clarity and brevity. For example:
- “This flat road is an ocean of tranquility.”
- “The taste of victory awaits you at the top of the hill.”
- “Explode out of this sprint like a rocket.”
- “The rhythm of your cadence is as steady as a train.”
Bringing It All Together
Clarity, brevity and diversity of language are all connected in delivering even better cues. Developing these skills and using them together will elevate your ability to motivate students, creating even greater vocal impact and even more exciting rides!