If there is one thing that distinguishes a great leader from a good leader, it is his enigma. For no one can command enigma, it is blessed to only a handful of people. Going by the rapturous applause that Madison Square Garden was reverberating to on Sunday, it seems Narendra Modi, our current Prime Minister, has that aplenty. His hour-long speech bewitched audiences – not just those present at the venue – but billions others across the world. We try to dissect what actually made this speech so historic in the Pravasi Bharatiya’s mind, giving rise to a wave of impregnable nationalism.
A magnetic leader attracts audiences through the powerful pull of his words. Narendra Modi plucked the right emotions of Indian NRIs by acknowledging their efforts in bolstering the image of this country overseas. Modi ushered tremendous self-belief in the pravasi bharatiya community by praising how they had achieved great technical and financial prowess, thereby ridding the image of India being a land of snake charmers.
Takeaway: Although no one ever concedes it, the truth is that audiences love being acknowledged honestly by the speaker in front.
Modi knows the subtle value of humour in a speech. Sometimes humour and a little bit of satire can underplay the heaviest of political innuendos. While narrating the Korean incident in the beginning of the speech, he spoke of how his interpreter once sheepishly asked him if Indians indulged in black magic, snake rearing and other prohibited practices, to which Narendra Bhai’s wit promptly came to his rescue, as he replied, “We used to play with snakes earlier, now we play with mouses! (Of PC’s)”. This resulted in a thunderous applause and a roaring laughter from his audience.
Takeaway: Just as in life, a little humour in the speech can open the audience’s hearts to you.
In optimism, there is magic. In pessimism, there is nothing. Optimism drives people to achieve more. And no one else may know the power of optimism and dreaming big than Modi might; as is evident from his life story – from being an ordinary chai walla to a CM with no exposure to national politics, to winning majority seats in a clean sweep these elections and becoming the unrivalled 15th Prime Minister of India. At Madison Square, Modi made sure his audience too got a taste of his optimistic spread by calling the 21st century “India’s Century” , implying that ‘Achhe Din’ are indeed not too far away.
Takeaway: As all great speeches are testimony, a truly inspiring speech is never complete without powerful streaks of optimism.
A great speaker isn’t just a loud, self-assured voice – he is, in fact, the words he speaks. Modi’s speeches aren’t uni-dimesional. He quotes statistics, draws from literature, borrows from economics, refers to religion and history, and neatly packages it in the form of a great story.
Narendra Modi’s language is sharp, which helps him immensely in this speech, where he speaks from the mind, without a pen and paper. It is at times gentle, at times optimistic, at times funny, at times hopeful, but always serious fodder for the mind.
Takeaway: In this highly intelligent world, you can capture the world only if you have great content to back.
The crowd knows a leader when it sees one! And for long having hungered for a real leader, India seems to have finally ended its search, at least for this decade. Modi may only be five feet and seven inches tall, but his larger-than-life persona far outshadows him. A leader’s self-belief attracts others’ belief in him too. And Modi enthralls the crowd with his confidence, charisma and personality.
Takeaway: You are what you project.
Great speeches, like great movies, rely on the simple art of storytelling. Modi’s Madison Speech was, in many ways, and not to draw any direct comparisons, India’s indigenous adaptation to Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ speech, and Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. By projecting the optimistic future of India, in his ‘India Has Arrived Story’, typified by his talking of the success of the Mars Mission, the Jan Dhan Scheme and the Make In India Campaign, Modi etched a powerful story in the minds of not just impressionable NRIs, but even the cynical international media, at large.
Takeaway: Storytelling has the power to capture the minds of a 6-year-old to a 60-year-old, alike. And storytelling is the crux of all powerful images in the minds of the world.