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An Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi April 4, 2013

Posted by Shahir in Corporate, Indian Politics, Politics.
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Dear Rahul Ji,

I was watching with interest the speech you delivered today at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII ) and I must say I am left with mixed emotions as an ordinary citizen – with the thoughts of your vision for India on one side and the thoughts of the future leadership of India on the other side.

There has been mixed reviews too on your speech; while Bharti Mittal and the like sounded so inspired Uncle Pai and the like didn’t see substance– the speech aside, what actions are recommended – in it.

I am not stepping into the political value of your speech, but as a Talent Management professional having delivered quite a significant number of programs on public speaking and presentation deliveries, I must say I was least impressed with the show – though I must confess I’ve been a great admirer of you when you were silent all these while, just focusing on little actions that made quite a big difference in people like me.

There are a few things that stood out as sore thumb which caused the bitter taste as I was watching you, and they are:

  • Voice and articulation: You can’t do anything about your voice that perhaps does not carry the weight and treble as that of Sean Connery or Amitabh Bhachan, but if you were to realize it in advance, perhaps you could have controlled the movement of mic as you walked through the stage, which kind of disturbed the quality of your voice and therefore the impact of your speech. In a mega forum as this, you had all the opportunity to use a lapel mic too, which would have released your one hand to make appropriate gestures, and not interrupt the voice with your face movements !
  • Usage of stage: I am sure you must have been inspired by the presentations you watched of Steve Jobs or Tom Peters or Dr Stephen Covey or even the new Robbins’ (Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma and the like!) I think the context of their deliveries were completely different than the context in which your speech was staged, and your movement across the stage – I felt- was absolutely uncalled for, and at times made me look at you as a ‘soft-skills’ trainer in a wrong place! You might have wanted your speech to appeal to younger audience, adding dynamics in your moves, but at least I am left with an impression of an immature political leader diffusing all the hopes I had of your strength and will to carry the mantle. A stable leader with a perfect path of speech with smooth transitions from one point to the other is what I expected as I sat to watch you speak! Wrong expectations, perhaps?
  • Strength of your message: It wasn’t flowing, Rahul Ji. It sounded impromptu at times – which is more the kind of person you are – but it just didn’t carry the weight I expected of a speech from someone of your calibre! I don’t expect it to be as eloquent as Barack Obama’s speech of 2004 or his speech in Germany, nor do I expect it to be as compactly packaged as Mani Shankar Aiyer, but somehow I felt lack of rehearsals in your speech as important as this to as influential an audience as CII, considering the fact that one of the key success factors of all Steve Jobs’ presentations are his dedicated rehearsals before the delivery.

I think you could have done better, and script your speech to more perfection, and scale up your image to match the audience and the context of speech. The language  – both in words and image – did not reflect the quality I personally anticipated in a forum as this; I believe Dr Manmohan Singh delivered an even higher quality of speech standing behind the podium and with all his restricted movements, but with the strength of message, the choice of words and the measured articulation.

This being one of the firsts, Rahul Ji, I hope you will take lessons fRahul Gandhirom this and I look forward to watching you deliver to the nation even more inspiring talks, simply because there are millions who’s keeping great hope on young leaders like you and Sachin Pilot etc who has a vision for a truly republic and secular India in contrast to the old Maharajas and the new 2G-Raja’s!!

Most of all, for reasons unknown, I personally want you to succeed, succeed as much and more than Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, be a true face of India and the Indians – all inclusive – and grow to become a global leader, because that’s what India’s destiny is,and it need leaders who has vision and has a vehicle of plan to execute them, appealing to the masses in all ways, always.



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