Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sh!Amitabh Bachchan speaks – 6 Communication Lessons from the Bollywood legend


I recently saw a video interview with Mr.Amitabh Bachchan and found it an enjoyable watch.
The interview conversation stayed with me long after I saw the video, and I wondered Why?
Was it the voice?
Was it the words?
Was it the person?
Was it the articulation?
Was it the legend?

Over the years I have come to believe that oral communication in general, and public speaking in specific is both a skill and art -  Something which I admire deeply in people who are able to do this effortlessly almost always! I have a hypothesis when it comes to verbal communication - People usually listen to you because of who you are (your name and any associated fame), where you come from (your life story), what your speaking about (the topic), how you speak (the power of your words, delivery style and engagement with an audience) or your relationship with them

In my life, I’ve heard several people speak in public (from CXO's / business leaders, to politicians, to religious gurus, to motivational speakers, to teachers / professors, etc) and have been in awe with the prowess and power of the oral word in some of them. Outstanding speakers compel you to listen, create an instant connection with you, and captivate your mind and heart that you are fully consumed with what the speaker has to say.  

In my personal view, Mr.Amitabh Bachchan is an outstanding speaker. Almost every interview of his that I've heard, I've given my full attention to listen to what he is saying. I always believed it was because he was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan - The Bollywood legend. But when he had my 'close-to-whole-hearted attention' when I was tending to my howling babies (Yeah! If you're a new age parent, you'd know exactly what decibel level I'm talking about here :) - I knew that the reason was much beyond his name.

So in this post, I have tried to list down the reasons why I believe that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan's voice and words stand out. And possibly lessons for many of us on how to improve oral communication.

(1) Find your 'voice' 
Find your 'voice' - both literally and figuratively. This one stands out in all of Mr. Bachchan's communication. His deep powerful baritone is so unique that you cannot miss it and it almost instantly draws your attention. Agreed that not everyone has a gifted voice, but we can all try to find our personal voice which really highlights the uniqueness of who we are, and find ways to make it shine amidst the noise.

(2) Speak slowly
Again, in an era when everyone and everything is rushed, I find it refreshingly wonderful to hear someone who talks slowly. The more I listen to Mr Bachchan - the more I am convinced that there is beauty, clarity, charm and power in talking slowly. And the more I think about this, I realize that the best speakers almost always speak slowly

(3) Use simple language
I've never heard Mr.Bachchan speak and thought I don't understand what he is trying to say. Never. Never ever. That's a skill, That's an art. That requires clarity in thought. That requires power over a language. That requires comprehension of what you want to convey. That requires one to be a child at heart and child-like in your mind, which is tough for most adults who find solace in embracing complexity - in words, in thought and in articulation. But here's the thing | The simpler your communication, the easier it is - for you to say it and for them to get it!

(4) Pause / Breathe before you respond
A pause / deep breath before you say something is one of the most effective ways to get your thoughts around what you really want to say. That is absolutely essential in today's age where it is so easy to misinterpret anyone's words

(5) Tell stories, Your personal stories - There is power in story-telling
Storytelling is a powerful tool to share your message, and it is for this reason that storytelling is one of the most popular methods used to communicate with children. And Mr.Bachchan almost always tells a story (many times a personal tale) to give a message and convey his point of view.

(6) There are many ways to answer a question - A smile,  silence, A question, A gaze all work!
The purpose of conducting any interview is to ask questions. And in very many videos I've seen, Mr. Bachchan has responded with an answer, or a smile, silence, a question or a gaze.Again, all very effective oral communication strategies when you are addressing a large audience, and excellent ways of saying what you don't want to say :)

Those are my lessons. Have you learned any communication lessons by watching Mr.Amitabh Bachchan speak? Leave a comment to let me know

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