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I’ve always been a sports fan.  And, as a female, I’ve always been a huge supporter of women’s sports.  I played growing up.  I play as an adult.  I realize the values and character-building that sports bring to a child’s life.  So when the opportunity came to work directly with professional athletes, I jumped on it.  Professional athletes, especially professional female athletes, have a unique position in society.  They have the dual tasks of simultaneously having to exceed in their sport and having to serve the global community as ambassadors and role models for young girls and boys everywhere.  They don’t have to just do their thing on the court–they have to justify their reason for being there.  And with these co-existing demands, communication and media skills become essential to translating this mission to a broader audience.  That’s where I come in.

My company, Impromptu Guru, was recently named the official communication and media coach for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.  Through partnering with this amazing organization, I’m able to work with staff and players to communicate their messages more effectively.  For the staff, I help by providing communication, relationship building and sales training so that they can spread the word of the WNBA experience and expose more and more people to the league.  For the athletes, I assist by coaching them in messaging strategies for interviews and on handling the pressures of the media and community appearances.  Again, these athletes don’t just have to succeed on the court; what they do off the court is equally scrutinized.

Since partnering with the Phoenix Mercury, I’ve gotten to work with the entire team.  I had the opportunity to present about communication and media tips to the entire team in the locker room before the ladies went to the practice court for the team’s annual Media Day on May 10th.  I’ve gotten to talk to the coaches and the executive staff about their messaging strategies and goals for the team.  And I’ve gotten to work one-on-one with many players, including the media icon and all-star Brittney Griner (who, I’m told, quotes some of my pieces of advice before she goes on camera for many of her interviews).  As Amber Cox, the President and COO of the Phoenix Mercury said to a group of people recently: “Jill has the unique ability to connect with the players on their level.  If you can get a 22 year-old all-star to remember and recite what you tell her before she goes into an interview, then you know you’re getting your point across and helping her improve.”

I’m honored to work with the Phoenix Mercury, to be a partner to the team, and to help advance a league (the WNBA) that will have far-reaching effects on our society and the role models, on and off the court, that kids can have.


Jill Schiefelbein is an accomplished speaker, author, professor, and business owner. She is the owner of Impromptu Guru, a communication consulting company that was named Gilbert Arizona’s 2012 “Rookie of the Year” less than a year after its inception. She is also the host of “Communication Nation,” a business communication talk show on VoiceAmerica’s Business Channel. She works with professional athletes, politicians, business executives, and groups to improve their communication and messaging strategies. Learn more at http://impromptuguru.com