Research studies on good communication practices suggest that personalised references make ideas discussion-worthy
While criticised for being driven by hidden agendas, inaccurate projection of facts, and sycophancy, Modi’s FICCI address teach some key communication lessons
BJP’s senior leader Narendra Modi addressed the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) in an hour-long discussion on March 8 in New Delhi. Modi’s address came close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi’s address to CII last week. While social media was full of comments and opinions that either support or condemn the views that he expressed during the discussion, there is no questioning the fact that Modi, with over four decades of political experience, was able to make a strong impact on the audience comprising women stalwarts of the Indian industry.
There are several key lessons on good communication that a leader can take away from Modi’s address.
The power of the personal touch
Modi spoke to the congregation of some of the most powerful women leaders in the industry about the issues that women in the economy face and how they can overcome them. As a testimony of his craftiness, Modi started his speech apologising to the audience for his inability to make it to the meeting on the scheduled date on 11th April, owing his ‘Navratra’ obligations. While appearing needless, considering most men do not observe fasts during Navratra in Northern India, one can see how Modi would have struck a chord with the audience in question. Even though social media was abuzz with comments dismissing Modi’s move as sycophancy, one cannot deny that it got the audience hooked because it appealed to a common sentiment of the audience. Good communication practitioners would term such a move as crafty and inclusive.
Evoke interest through ordinary ideas
Research studies on good communication practices suggest that personalised references make ideas discussion-worthy as they have the ability to evoke the attention of the listener. Focusing on everyday issues of a common woman in India, Modi alluded to existential struggles that a woman faces in the country, including prejudices, attitudes, and societal hardwiring. Modi asserted that the professional corporate woman’s existential struggles are no less emphatic than those of a housewife in India. At various points of his speech, Modi made references to everyday mundane objects associated with the common woman of India, including ‘rotis,’ ‘saris,’ ‘khakda,’ and ‘papad.’ While the ideas and assertions that Modi referred to were already firmly established by social studies and economic thinkers, it was the level of personalisation that made them sound thought-provoking.
Making the audience feel empowered
While Modi did outline the gender disadvantage for women in the Indian society, he was able to project a silver lining to these endemic problems. Modi referenced the story of Ganga Baa, who is credited to have given Mahatma Gandhi his first ‘chakra’ and ultimately what led to its inclusion in the Indian flag. Modi also mentioned the empowerment of women through other anecdotal references, such as Jassu Behn Pizzas, Lijjat Papad, and Aadivasis. A shrewd communicator, Modi was thus able to leave the stage imbibing the message of hope and empowerment among the audience, rather than present a bleak picture on the state of affairs.
While people continue to argue on the political motivations, BJP-patronisation, hidden agendas, and inaccurate facts that reflect in his speech, there is unanimity of opinion that Modi was able to impress the audience with the guile and aptitude of a seasoned statesman.