Winning with Words: Does Super Bowl Victory Start with Inspiring Speeches?

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Research has proven that in order for leaders to inspire their audiences, they must be engaging, authentic, and persuasive. Last January, we decided to test this concept by analyzing inspirational locker room speeches from the head coaches of the NFL teams that were facing off in the Super Bowl. We found the language of Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, to be 32.7% more inspirational than the language of John Fox, head coach of the Denver Broncos, which may have helped spur Carroll’s team to a 43 – 8 victory.

Similarly, in June, we analyzed the language of the team captains from the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan and LeBron James, to measure their use of inspirational messages. We also measured the confidence they displayed in their language before the final game. As with the analysis from the Super Bowl, we found that Tim Duncan’s language included higher levels of engagement and authenticity, which may have helped inspire the Spurs to edge out the Heat in 5 games.

In anticipation of this year’s Super Bowl, we again measured the language from the Seattle Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll, and compared it to the language used by the New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick. We took Mr. Carroll’s responses from a January 23rd press conference and compared it to the responses from Mr. Belichick’s January 22nd press conference. We then benchmarked both speakers against Mr. Carroll’s average from our 2014 analysis as well as our database containing over 100,000 pieces of content.

So which coach uses the key components of inspirational language?

Both coaches displayed above average levels of engaging and authentic language. However, only Mr. Carroll uses above average levels of persuasive language.

And which coach displayed more confidence during their press conference?

Although both coaches display above average levels of confident language, in 2015 Pete Carroll still uses slightly more than Bill Belichick.

It’s worth noting that these results may be skewed because of the recent “Deflate-Gate” scandal. There have been allegations that footballs used by the Patriots in the Patriots-Colts game were purposefully deflated, making them easier to pass and catch. Because of this scandal, Bill Belichick spent most of his press conference answering questions about the deflated balls. On the other hand, Pete Carroll was able to field questions regarding the upcoming game.

Will Pete Carroll’s confident, inspirational language be enough to lead his team to another Super Bowl ring? Our team at Quantified Communications is aligned on the numbers, but divided on which team to root for.