Howdy Modi – What makes the world sit up and listen?

The entire weekend saw the internet, social media, TV and even the printed dailies ringing in 1 topic – our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to be part of the Howdy Modi community event. In the Millennial parlance, #HowdyModi is trending.

Glued to the TV while my mobile continuously pings with notifications from discussions on the topic in various group chats and social media, I wonder at the sheer magnificence of the event. And of course the lessons we can learn from it.

It was only five months ago that the Modi led BJP won the general elections with an unprecedented majority that too in a country where the average voter age is 28 years – The Millennials.

Looking at the sheer majority during the elections and now the 50,000+ crowd in Houston for the Howdy Modi event I ponder – 

  • What makes Modi a favorite among the millennials?
  • What lessons in conversational leadership can his speech teach Millennials?
  • What are the learnings from the speech as a leader? A manager? A speaker? A listener? A learner?

Monday morning, my business communication class opened with these questions. After all what makes Modi the millennials favorite is best answered by the millennials themselves. 

A distilled version of the thoughts along with my opinions is mentioned in this blog. Please add on to the learnings with your thoughts in the comments below. 

Content and confidence trumps language skills

It is a well acknowledged fact that the charisma of our Prime Minister is his powerful speeches. They transcend the barriers erected by economic, cultural and political forces to reach the common man. In a multilingual country likeIndia he speaks predominantly in Hindi. He carries his language across borders to the US. Yes electronic translators are the reason everyone understands his speech, but the fact that he decided to allow the translator to do its job while he concentrated on his speech is an important lesson to all us Indians who try very hard to learn the language and base our content and confidence in our ability to speak a foreign language.

An important point to mention is his 12 minute speech in English welcome the President of USA in Houston. That confidence is a quality we all need to learn as managers, leaders and speakers.

Visualize the audience

Modi’s speech is perfectly visualized and distilled to

1.  What the audience is looking for – A sense of inclusion, pride in belonging, support and identity. Right from the name – #HowdyModi, the entire event has been kept informal and friendly, an important criteria for the Millennial generation.

2. What he wants the audience to think about – Probably for the first time India has positioned itself as an equal, as a friend. In fact the scales tilted more towards India as Modi said candidate Trump – abki baar, Trump sarkar. 

Include the audience at all times to engage

Right from the first words, Modi’s speech has included all possible audiences and to keep them engaged has time and again reiterated them. From the ‘Good morning Houston’, to including Indians in Us and also those watching on TV late in the nightie India, the speech touched every Indian. From Houston to Hyderabad, New Jersey to New Delhi, he includes pockets of Indians in the audience and also creates a sense of belongingness. The most powerful of the lines though were when he makes Trump his friend and the Indian audience his family. The powerful and decisive speech incites and inspires the people to take action.

The transition to Dialogue

The transition of the speech to a dialogue like mode with pregnant pauses, body language that included the audience makes the candid, informal but directional qualities unmissable.

Actionable talk

The entire speech stayed away from too many research instead Modi chose simple English to convey an inspiring way forward. The pauses in between and the entire speech showcased the preparation done by a great speaker. 

A well tailored speech

In most of our conversations, presentations and speeches we carry the success or failure of our past events into the next talk. However our PM manages to bring in fresh perspective every time in his speeches.

What are your views while you listen to the Howdy Modi event? Please share in the comments below. (No political views please)

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