Sunday, November 22, 2015

CC Project #9 - Persuade with Power - Oh.. My God!

“Mitra! If you steal a pencil from your friend, God is going to watch you and prick your eyes”
That was my wife trying to instill the fear of God in my 10 years old daughter. Does God exist? Is God real? Should we believe in God?

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

It was the year 1991, the month was December. I was doing my +2 at that time. I was seriously preparing for my half-yearly Chemistry examination. No matter how hard I studied, it was hard for me to understand the complex atomic structures, molecules and compounds. Finally, the D-day arrived… Chemistry examinations. Those were the days when I go to God for pretty much everything – when I lose my pencil, I ask God to find that, when I’m not getting a bus in time, I ask God to send that, when I don’t do my homework I ask God to bring rains to get me a holiday. Since I haven’t prepared well for my exam, I went to temple to pray to God. I promised God to shave my head for him, if he somehow makes me to score 80% in Chemistry. As a token advance, I even deposited Rs.5 in the Hundial and sealed the deal. I whitewashed my forehead with the ashes given by the priest. I reached the exam hall and uttered a few verses from Kanda Shasti and got the question paper in my hand. I closed my eyes praying to God again and opened the question paper. The moment I saw the question paper, my head started to spin. I became dizzy. Most of the questions were very tough and I couldn’t even understand some of the questions, let alone answering them. I started scolding God for not honoring our gentlemen agreement. I went back to the temple in the evening. How many of you have seen Annamalai movie… and remember the famous “Ashok! Mark this day in your calendar” dialogue? I did pretty much the same thing and parted ways from God. Since then, I’ve started questioning the existence of God and started appreciating the power of humans.


I feel that the concept called “God” was originally invented by a smart guy to unite people in the society and stop them from doing barbaric acts. But, look at what actually is happening today. The same concept called “God” is killing several 1000s and 1000s of people today.
Close to a 100 million people have died in the last 1000 years due to religion – that is equivalent of killing 300 people every day, in the name of God. Every day, you see news about Hindus killing Muslims and Muslims killing Christians. Nobody in this world has seen God, but look at the number of deaths happening because of God. It is not only humans who are getting killed, but poor creatures like goats and cows are killed in the name of sacrifice to God. Is God really uniting people or dividing people?

Blind Belief

There are many individuals who take people’s blind belief to their advantage. Asaram Bapu, Swami Nithyanandha, Swami Premanandha and even the popes are involved in scandals such as rape, murder and child trafficking. People donate a lot of money to religious trusts, which get misutilized.
People blindly believe in God and don’t provide proper medical care to their kids resulting in death of young children. Blind belief results in people not doing their job and expecting God to perform a miracle to improve their financial condition.

Where was our God when 30 innocent people died because of stampede, when they came to take a holy dip in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh? Where was our God when 2000 innocent people died because of the stampede in Mecca, recently? Blind belief shuts off reasoning capacity of people.  Why would you assemble in such large numbers in a place without proper safety measures?

Purpose vs Practice

In those days, people used to walk to the hill top to worship God, which kept them fit. Today, we are going to the hill top in an A/C car. Those days, people sacrificed their personal pleasures in the days that lead to a special function or festival. Today, even the Sabarimala devotees are smoking and eating unhealthy food. Those days, festivals where used to force people to keep their homes and surroundings clean. Today, when there is a festival the surroundings of a temple become a junk yard.
The concept called “God” was invented to keep people united, to keep people disciplined and to keep the surroundings clean. We forgot the purpose of “God”, but we keep having blind beliefs.


God does exist, not in temples but in the minds of humans who treat others with respect, courtesy and dignity. God does exist, not in temples but in the hearts of people who help others, people who care for fellow human beings and people who do their job. God is everywhere, he is in the water bodies that are kept clean, he is in the air that is unpolluted, and he is in the surroundings that is kept clean. God is in you and God is in me. Will you start following the REAL God instead of the dummies in the temple?

CC Project #8 - Visual Aids - Speech Crafting Lessons from the Advertisers

Are you craving to make speeches that get audience attention, speeches that are memorable and speeches that make an impact? Raise your hands if you said “Yes!” to any of these questions

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

We are in the Diwali season and advertisers are competing with each other to push information, to promote products and to persuade us to buy. What are some lessons that we can learn from them? Today, I’m going to share some techniques / lessons that we can learn from the advertisers.

Grab their attention

Look at these advertisements. The moment you see this advertisement, what catches your eyes?

Ad#1: "Pain Relief Without Surgery". If you are someone who is going through a lot of body pain due to illness or if you know of someone who are going through excessive pain, this advertisement will force you to read the advertisement further. 

Ad#2: "Own a fabulous home at a surprise price". If you are looking for homes to buy, this advertisement will entice you to look at the various deals given below.

We can use similar techniques to get audience attention, while crafting speeches. You can start with a quote such as "Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account" or ask a startling question "Do you know that 90% of the diabetics are unaware of their condition?" It immediately hooks the audience with you. 

Keeping the main thing, the main thing

Look at these advertisements. In the 1st advertisement, the shoemaker is trying to sell every type of shoe that they carry in their inventory. However, in the 2nd advertisement, Maruti is trying to sell just the Baleno. While Maruti has 20+ car models to sell, they decided to just focus on selling one thing, instead of trying to sell multiple things in one advertisement. It will help the readers to remember Baleno, better.

Similarly, through our speeches we always sell ideas, thoughts, products, services and at times, ourselves. Patricia a famous public speaker says "Life is a series of sales situations". It is very true. How do we make the best out of these sales situations. I've seen novice presenters carrying 30+ slides for a 30 minutes presentation. And, each slide will be like a word document filled with lots & lots of textual content. Instead, we should carry just 6 slides for a 30 minutes presentation. The extra information can be shared as handouts or sent offline via email. In Toastmasters, a 5 minutes speech can be used to convey only 1 main point and a few sub points.

Help them Visualize

Look at these advertisements. In the first advertisement, the advertiser is just showing the Golden necklace. However, in the second advertisement, NAC is trying to show how the Golden necklace will look on a beautiful girl, when she wears it. It helps the readers to visualize how the product / service will be of use to them.

Similarly, in speeches help the audience to visualize by including stories / examples in your speeches. For example, instead of saying "Always split your goals into smaller tasks for you to quickly accomplish your goals", you can say "Imagine going to a pizzeria and ordering a pizza. After a few minutes of wait, your hot delicious pizza is served with your favorite toppings - olives, mushrooms, pepper etc., Now, when you are about to taste your pizza, I hold your hand and say that you'll have to gulp the entire pizza in one GO... you'll be sitting there thinking "How the hell that I'm going to eat the pizza without cutting it into slices". If I allow you to slize the pizza into smaller pieces, you will be able to comfortably finish eating the pizza. Similarly, your goals are like those large size pizza. You'll not be able to accomplish them in one GO, if you don't split them into smaller tasks. When you slice your goal into smaller goals, you'll be able to accomplish your goals faster"

Make it Stick

Look at the following advertisements. The advertisers are trying to help us remember the message longer. The first advertisement is condensing "20K per month for first 20 bookings" into a "20:20 offer" and that too by showing a cricket ball. The second advertisement is introducing a new term called "Selfietude" by combining "Selfie" + "Attitude". These are techniques that can be used to make an idea "stick"

Similarly, when we deliver complex information such as statistics, we can simplify them for audience to remember the information longer. For example, instead of saying "Ford sold 2,34,428 cars in this month", you can say "1 in every 10 cars sold in the city this month is from Ford". Another example is "If you want to be a successful toastmaster, you should follow the 3Rs - be regular to meetings, do enough research for your speeches, and rehearse your performance before delivering".


Dear friends, the next time you are reading the Sunday morning newspaper sipping a cup of hot coffee, don't just look at the advertisements and offers... look at what you can learn from those advertisements... so that, you can craft your next speech.