Subscribe to the Source!

A free monthly newsletter that's actually worth opening!

We bring you the latest ideas, concepts and strategies from our speakers, business thinkers and thought leaders. Stop relying on the algorithm to show you the content you need; The Source is your curated collection of the latest insights and inspirations from around the globe. 


In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Clive Tyldesley.

Speaking live to an audience of a couple of hundred delegates in a conference hall can be an intimidating prospect. Clive Tyldesley has spoken live to an audience of more than 20 million television viewers on many different occasions.

Those occasions have included Champions League and England international football matches that have brought the nation to a halt to watch and to listen… (and in the 21st century to also tweet their instant reactions to what they are seeing and hearing).

Connect with Speakers Associates

Episode #250

Engagement is Everything

Maria Franzoni (00:17): Hello and welcome back to The Speaker Show with me your host Maria Franzoni. In today’s show, we are taking some lessons from the world of football. The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. Speaking live to an audience of a couple of hundred delegates at a conference hall can be an intimidating prospect. My guest has spoken live to an audience of more than 20 million television viewers on many different occasions. Those occasions have included Champions League and England international football matches that have brought the nation to a halt to watch and to listen… (and in the 21st century to also tweet their instant reactions to what they are seeing and hearing). He is one of the most recognizable voices in sports broadcasting and equally to ‘FIFA’ game players too. He has won the Royal Television Society Sports Commentator of the Year award 4 times. He’s been working in television since 1987… 24 Champions League finals… 7 World Cups… Been there, seen it, called it. His recent semi-autobiographical book provides a fascinating insight into the relationships he has forged with football greats from Clough to Dalglish and Ferguson to Hoddle. He has some stories to tell, please welcome my guest Clive Tyldesley.

Maria Franzoni (01:37): Hello, Clive. How are you today?

Clive Tyldesley (01:40): I’m as well as I can be I wish I was 21. Is that okay?

Maria Franzoni (01:46): Yeah. Do you know what I would like to have? I’d like to have the knowledge that I have now. Yeah. And the wealth I have now and be 21,

Clive Tyldesley (01:53): But 21 would be no fun if you knew what you know now.

Maria Franzoni (01:57): Well, that’s true. I’d behave very differently. Listen, let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about, let’s talk about you and your experience and in the introduction, we, we heard a lot about you and, and your work, and let’s be honest, not many people get a chance to speak to an audience of 20 million people or so it doesn’t happen very often, right? You must have learnt an awful lot about managing nerves and also about communication from this experience. Can you share a few tips with us?

Clive Tyldesley (02:25): I failed to prepare and you prepared to fail is the motto of, of the football commentator. We are research monsters famously infamously stat up to the eyeballs. I compiled neatly written prep charts for the data and, and info, which are an attempt to steady any nerves there. My comfort blankets, my safety nets, if you feel prepared, then a 20 million audience is a stage. It’s an opportunity. It’s what we wish for what we do it for. It is a different stage. Now to 10 years ago, there is a different responsibility, a different jeopardy. In the Twitter age, you can end your career in a breath. If you make a mistake or, you know, say something blinkered or lazy or open to misinterpretation, you know, the high wire that we walk has got even higher in that respect. But, but most of what is tagged as political correctness is just being sensitive to other people’s views or stance or culture. And I’ve got no problem whatsoever with that. Good, good communication should be responsible, should be inclusive. You should be welcoming, welcoming, everybody listening in to what you are, you are saying and, and doing. And, and yeah, and when you’re talking to a 20 million audience, it is nearly everyone. And I think live sport is one of the last remaining appointments to view events that brings different generations together to watch together. And so it’s a privilege to be a small part of that kind of experience.

Maria Franzoni (03:56): I think that’s such great advice about preparation. And I had no idea that you called yourself a research monster. I quite like that. I think that is. Yeah. So, you know, you are armed with all the information. You probably have more information than you need. I imagine

Clive Tyldesley (04:11): Hopefully you would never use more than about 10% of, of the information that is in front of you. If there is a skill to what we do, it is the editorial now to use the information only when it amplifies what the viewer is seeing or adds to what the listener is is, is hearing. I sometimes think with some of my colleagues, no names, there should be a small crawl going across the bottom of the screen with in quotes. I’ve bloody well done this research. So you’re bloody well gonna hear it. That is not good. Commentary, not good communication.

Maria Franzoni (04:45): Okay. I might have to bleep the language out there. I don’t know. We will find out if it’s still in. We know it’s alright. If it’s not, we know it’s not. So I’m gonna have to do some name dropping because you’ve, you’ve obviously in your book not for me Clive, which is not an autobiography as such each chapter heading is a name drop isn’t it people like Fergie, Fluffy, Gareth. So Bobby Robson, I think their names that everybody knows, even if they don’t follow football what have you learned getting close to these incredible leaders?

Clive Tyldesley (05:18): That football is life. I, I mean, it sounds like one of those NAF slogans on the front of a t-shirt, but it, but it is kind of true. You know, you know, football is one of the great meritocracy. You can buy your way into a football club, but you cannot buy your way into a football team. You’ve gotta be good enough. The men and women that succeed in football are the elite. They are simply extraordinary. And, and when you’re privileged enough to get close to them, you better keep your eyes and ears open because they are special ones, particularly the managers, because I think they are in the same business as me communication. I mean, you, you mentioned those names I’ve had, yeah. I’ve had the two biggest roll Kings of my life from Fergie. Fluffy came to my leaving do and I moved on from my very first job.

Clive Tyldesley (06:05): Gareth was at our wedding. I, I worked with the Robson family to this day on staging an annual charity event in, in Bobbi’s name. I have got close to them all and to, to King Kenny and to Roy Keane and Glenn Hoddle and Graham students, I am a wicked name drop you’re right. That, but they’ve let me get close. And we have built a mutual trust that has elevated professional relationships in interpersonal ones. And I think a lot of that trust comes from recognizing that we are as serious about what we do as each other. So I’ve actually learned a lot about myself from getting close to these extraordinary people.

Maria Franzoni (06:48): Fantastic. And you must have been able to take some great lessons about leadership. I know it’s one of the topics you talk about from these great leaders that you can then apply to your business audiences and, and, and other organizations. I, I’m hoping you also pepper them with some nice stories as well.

Clive Tyldesley (07:05): well, I mean, it’s Riley Ferguson managed differently when he first took over as manager of Manchester, I than he did towards the end, when he had to oversee the development of a young Ryan Giggs, he could almost volume. He could, he could tell him to do something and Ryan would be a fool not to do it. When that young still is Christian Ronaldo. He wasn’t dealing with the parents as he was with Giggs. He was dealing with a super agent and, and Ronaldo was a different animal because it was a different era. And I think we, I think our parents pared us differently from how we have pared and how our children will parents. So those two Roach Kings that I got from, from Fergie, I can tell you about them if you like, but he probably wouldn’t have delivered them today because it is a different dressing room now. And there would be a different reaction to being shouted at and screamed at.

Maria Franzoni (07:57): Oh, okay. Maybe tell me over a drink. We’ll keep that for another time.

Clive Tyldesley (08:01): They were both mistakes. I’m glad to say otherwise I wouldn’t be here because there would be an murder out. And you know, my career would’ve ended on the spot because you only, you only let those kind of people down once you only let that kind of trust down once. So thankfully he was mistaken on both occasions. I’m still waiting for the apology, but within a week or so I was no longer persona non grata

Maria Franzoni (08:26): okay. So Fergie, if you’re listening in where the, the apology has been requested, send it on a postcard, that’d be lovely. Fantastic. so I mean, going back to, to the actual media, which is, you know, so you’ve been both on radio and TV. You are both on radio and TV. What’s the difference between talking to an audience that’s with you in the room and watching and listening them in their, their lounge or, or, you know, a radio where you don’t actually see the audience?

Clive Tyldesley (08:55): Well, the biggest difference between radio and television commentary is as simple as it’s critical to getting it right. You’re just not as important on television. And you’d better get your big head, your vein head around that before you start, when, when your viewers can see the action, the commentator is no more than a backing focused or certainly should be. And, and if you don’t accept that, you’ll find viewers turning you down or turning you off in no time at all of all the advice that my late great mentor Reg Gutteridge gave me nothing was as vital as, and he drummed this into me over and over again, identify your audience and talk to them. It is it’s the very essence of communication, whether you’re a commentator or a, a teacher or a speaker at a conference or, or a dinner now, good communication is more achievable.

Clive Tyldesley (09:48): And more scary when you can see the whites of your A’s eyes. It is a you’re then in a 3d relationship when you’re in the room with them. So read the room, give them what they want. Any standup comic will tell you that every audience is different. And that’s why the best of them, the micro mcintosh and the involve their audiences in their shows, making to kind of Q and A feed off the people that have come to see them. And, and somehow, if you are commentating, rather than speaking to millions of people who that you can’t see, you’ve got to make them feel as though you’re talking to them. If there is an art to what we do, then that is probably it

Maria Franzoni (10:31): Fantastic. And I know you do a lot of mentoring for young media, media, undergraduates, and commentators, and and actually I’m sure that some of this advice would also apply maybe to young speakers, too. What would be your single most important piece of advice that you would offer them?

Clive Tyldesley (10:49): Well, bring yourself to the party. You know, we, we all have our influences. The people that we look up to and, and admire both professionally and personally I still hear and see broadcasters that maybe think, wow, you know, but I can’t be them. I can learn from them, but I mustn’t try to copy them or mimic them, or I’ll just be a pale imitation of them. So I say the same to undergraduates about job interviews, you know, be the journalists, do your research about the company that you replying to join. Trying to find out about the people that you’re facing, who decide your faith, choose your words, rehearse your words. It’s not cheating to practice, how to make a good impression. Psychologists say that we form our first impressions about a stranger in the first six seconds. So make those first six seconds.

Clive Tyldesley (11:41): Good seconds. I think that’s good advice. Start a commentary. Well, and I find the rest usually flows same with an interview or a speech, but, but be yourself the best version of yourself for that appointment, that situation. But, but let the audience see you. I mean, if, if I’m presenting a, an awards lunch for the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom sector, and by the way I have , I start by asking whoever has employed me for a full briefing about where that industry’s at, what the trends are, who the moves and shakes are. I owe it to my audience to take an interest in them to try to be on the same page as them, but there, but then hopefully I can find parallels, make links between what they know and what I know. And, and that’s, if you like how those relationships with the Ferguson and the club is flourished, it’s a kind of cross-fertilization, but the, the kingdom queen in communication are your audience, your customers.

Maria Franzoni (12:44): Absolutely. Absolutely brilliant. Do you know? I didn’t realize it was six seconds. I’m sure. I thought it was 12. Even that’s gone down. it’s even shorter. That’s scary.

Clive Tyldesley (12:52): It’s shorter on soon.

Maria Franzoni (12:54): yeah, for sure. Yeah. And usually the first six seconds on zoom are you are on mute. You’re on mute so, so, so that’s great. First impression, right. Anyway so people are gonna ask you this question I’m sure. And so I have to ask it, but people are often asked who would they invite to their fantasy dinner party now? You’ve met so many people and I’m, I’m gonna want some stories from some of these people as to why you’d invite them, but what would be your idea of the perfect speaking engagement and also your perfect dinner party? I want both

Clive Tyldesley (13:27): well, I mean, in both cases, one that I get something back from. I mean, if, if you’re speaking, you’re there to do a specific job to, to host or to present or to entertain, but it, it’s got to be a shared experience if it’s, if it’s gonna strike chords and, and work for everyone. But I mean, we arrive at any gathering, whether it lasts for six, six, or 12 seconds, social or professional with our own mindset, our own experiences, but, you know, communication is about opening and stimulating minds, all, all those precious hours that I’ve spent under the spell of sporting grades have always given me something to take away and then pass on and share with others. I like interaction, which is actually a bit strange for a commentator and for an author, because they’re largely one way streets. You know, I do the talking, you listen, I write the words you read.

Clive Tyldesley (14:27): I can, I can turn up at an event or a session and delivered my own view and version of the world for 30 or 40 minutes. And I think I can make it interesting, but it only becomes enlightening. It only becomes enlivening when others have an opportunity to challenge and change my version when the agenda’s open for discussion. So I like to involve the audience and I would want to be at a dinner party where I’d like this interview, sorry, Maria, I’m doing all the talking. I would like to be at a dinner party with Stephen Fry or to David at, or somebody who is just going to hold my attention. And I mean, I think in a football sense, you’d wanna be with people who you feel comfortable with and who would make the smile and laugh. The, you know, the great rack on tears of my is the Ally McCoist and Andros Townsend and Martin O’Neill that, that, that, that would be a good threesome to start dinner party, but they themselves would love to be in the company of, of real intellect and, and, and say people who make you think and look at yourself and maybe, maybe even manage to change your mind about something

Maria Franzoni (15:37): Fantastic. If you managed to organize that dinner party, I will come and serve the drinks, because that sounds pretty amazing to me. Fantastic. Wow, brilliant. So you’ve given us a lot, a lot to think about, and it’s, it’s so clear that you have so much experience in communication, for sure. That really is a real area of expertise. And it’s very sweet of you to say that you’ve done all the talking. I have, I have managed to get several words in each ways, so it’s not it’s not, you know, it, I do expect you to do the talking. You are the expert, you’re the guest here.

Clive Tyldesley (16:07): I I’m serious about communication. Sometimes when I go to speak to undergraduates, I think they believe that I’m just going to wax lyrical about great goals and great matches for an hour. And they’re really disappointed when they find that actually the relief teacher has, has turned up and it, it, in order for them to get any benefit whatsoever from any time spent in my company particularly in that, in that particular circumstance, an educational circumstance, they’ve got, they’ve got to learn something, but the people that really make an impact on, as I think through these, I mean, I, I’m not quite sure what there is to learn yet from social media, but assessing someone’s impact as an influencer. That’s solely by the number of followers they have is totally missing the point because engagement is everything in communication. You can’t reach an audience unless you get their attention.

Clive Tyldesley (17:06): And I I’ve spent the bulk of my broadcasting career in and around ITV. And again, more name dropping, sorry, I I’ve got to know and work with the channels. Real A-LIST stars, Ant & Dec, Bradley Walsh, Dermot O’Leary. What do they all have in common? Those four guys warmth. Yes. The greatest single quality in a mass communicator, all of them ooze, warmth on and off screen. You feel like you would enjoy a pint or a takeaway with them. And I’ll tell you something you would, because they are that person that looks into that black hole at the end of the camera, when they’re with, when they’re with you, it’s not an act with any of, any of them. You you’d like their company. If you were with them, they always make you feel like you are with them when you’re watching them on TV, feel important.

Clive Tyldesley (17:53): And that is a, that is a, a magic trick to having any kind of communication. We all remember the people we meet, who ask about you and your family and your friends and your business who don’t start talking about themselves. So that’s a bit of a trick when you are employed to go and host something, or even speak as a, as a keynote speaker for, for half an hour. But if you can then engage the people that you are with, then you’ve got a better chance of informing them, maintaining them, questioning them in, in some way. And that if, as a broadcaster and as a speaker, that is the magic trick.

Maria Franzoni (18:32): That’s wonderful. And you also feel with the names you mentioned there, you feel like, you know them, you know, because they’re in your home. So often you see them so often and you feel like, you know them and you’d probably say, oh, hi, you know, if you saw ’em in the street and they’d look at you blankly, but you are convinced, you know, them, I love that. Engagement is everything. Everything absolutely love that. And I think it all comes back, you know, to understand that audience connecting with them. It comes back to what you said at the very beginning. You need to be a bit of a research monster. You need to prepare don’t you so that you can do that. So we’ve, we’ve come full circle. Well done.

Clive Tyldesley (19:03):

Maria Franzoni (19:05): Love that. Love that. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself being on the other side.

Clive Tyldesley (19:10): Yeah. I ask the questions. Yeah, I, I, I do. And as I say, I think the best way to learn about yourself is being in the company of inquiry minds. And all of those people that I’ve mentioned that you’ve heard of, and I’ve met and actually got quite close to, again, one thing they all have in common. I, I spent a lot of time with Terry Venables who is, was been one of the great pundits of, of television football down the years, obviously a, a great football coach. And he was the sort of guy who, if you had breakfast with him, he would immediately start on some tactical analysis and your teacup would disappear down the far end of the table to engage coming forward. That’s the kind of guy he was. But if you kind of humored him and just said something in order to keep the conversation going, he jumped back at you like a prosecutor. Why’d you say that? What do you mean by that? They’re the best questions in interviews. Why, what do you mean explain further? And if you’re in the company of people who can make you think a little bit or stretch your mind, stretch your imagination, then I think you you’re in the company of somebody worth spending time in the company of, and as a commentator and as a speaker, my aspirations, my ambitions are to be that person.

Maria Franzoni (20:37): That is amazing. Thank you very much. You’ve given me lots of tips. I’ve made lots of notes. thank you. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. And just to remind listeners that you are available to speak about leadership, communications, media, motivation, and teamwork, life and times as well. We know you’ve got lots of lovely stories, name, drop name dropping. Yeah. We put that as a topic. And of course, hosting awards and conferences, all peppered with great stories, right. And namedropping.

Clive Tyldesley (21:02): Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic for the right each for the right moment.

Maria Franzoni (21:07): Perfect. As you said, you don’t put in anything that doesn’t add to it. Listen, thank you so much Clive and thank you everybody for listening to The Speaker Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating on apple podcasts and you can keep up with future episodes on speakersassociates website, which is or your favorite podcast app. And if you would like to invite Clive to speak at your next conference or event, please contact Speakers Associates in plenty of time. Cause he’s a busy man. Then you don’t wanna be disappointed. And by his book, not for me Clive, I will see you all next week byebye for now. Thank you. Bye.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

Related podcasts