Speaking like Modi

The new prime minister could offer lessons on how to connect to an audience.

Connecting with your audience and their needs and aspirations is key to all great presentations. Connecting with your audience and their needs and aspirations is key to all great presentations.
Written by Charulata Ravi Kumar | Updated: May 23, 2014 9:26 am

Like a billion others, I too waited with bated breath for Narendra Modi’s first post-election speeches in Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Apart from the many opinions that the media, the opposition, India Inc and the aam aadmi will proffer over weeks to come, I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by Modi’s oratorical skills. The speech was in impeccable Hindi, yet the nation and the world got his message. Loud, sharp and clear. Here are some unmissable presentation tips from Modi’s speech. So try these next time you face an audience and want to make a similar impact.

One, spontaneity must be orchestrated. While Sonia Gandhi often fumbled with speech sheets, every speech of Modi’s appeared to come straight from the heart of his fiery determination. Your speech must be rehearsed and purposeful but come through as a spontaneous flow of thoughts and intent. For this, a lot of homework is required.

Two, connect with the right mood and words. Modi has spent a lot of time understanding India’s angst and the frustrations of the Indian youth. And while others spent their energies slandering the opposition, he was focused on two key thoughts — good governance and development. Note that these two words were consistently repeated in both Hindi and English. So all who want it were able to understand his intent and retain those two words. Why? Because he wants to be evaluated on just these two parameters, with no reference to the past.

Three, present long-term commitments, not short-term gimmicks. The AAP failure could

be ascribed, among other things, to speeches promising short-term benefits and then failing. Overnight turnarounds of damage done over decades is a foolish dream. Presenting a more solid vision, especially if you have demonstrated success in the past, is more credible. The means to achieve it should be the supporting strategy and must not become the vision itself.

Four, have a clear idea of the next action you want from your audience. Modi wants India to give him time, 10 years to be precise. His reference to 40 years of the past leading to India’s sorry state of affairs is a way of getting people to see 10 years (two terms) as a reasonable timeframe for his government to show change. He wants the nation’s patience and support for 10 years and not seek a change of government in the next term.

Five, lead the presentation but let the team be involved. Nothing is more annoying than having a six-member team with five as sitting dummies. While Modi was delivering his speech, his leaders (like Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah and Ravi Shankar Prasad) were lending strong support and solidarity and came across as an integrated team (addressing a concern people had about the BJP).

Six, choose the right time. Modi cleverly chose …continued »

First Published on: May 23, 2014 12:05 amSingle Page Format
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