Hanumad Prabhaavam # 9 – Significance of Body Language & Diction during an address

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In the previous episode we analysed the significance of four important aspects – “Eethi”, “Sheegri”, “Shirahkampi” and “Likitapaatakah”, that needs to be taken in to account while delivering an address. In today’s episode, we would see the significance of maintaining a good body language while delivering a lecture or a presentation as mentioned in the “Shaastras” (Hindu Scriptures). We shall explore a few key aspects in this context.

First, while delivering a lecture, the orator should not keep jumping around all over the stage. This would distract the audience because their attention would be shifted from the subject to the unwanted physical movements of the orator. Hence, it is advisable that the orator maintains minimal to zero physical movement while delivering an address or lecture.

Second, while the talk is going on, the audience should be able to clearly distinguish between two successive words used by the orator. This directly implies that the orator should have a clear diction while talking. The audience should be able to feel the difference between two successive words, but at the same time there shouldn’t be a feeling that they are two separate words. In simpler terms, the diction and the speed of the talk should balance out with each other, and only then the human brain would directly receive the content of the talk.

Third, the important points under discussion during the lecture, should be repeated minimum twice or thrice to enable better understanding for the audience. Here lies the significance of “Reinforcement”. On the contrary, if the orator explains a seemingly tough context just once, there is a possibility that a majority of the audience wouldn’t end up understanding it. Hence it’s advisable that the orator reinforces the important points more than once so as to enable proper and better understanding and interpretation by the audience.

Fourth, there should compulsorily be an introduction and a conclusion as integral parts of an oration. This is to ensure that the audience have a continuity with what was said during the previous /next session of the talk.

Fifth, the orator should convey concepts that are difficult to understand and interpret, within the first 30-45 minutes of the lecture. Else, the audience would become restless after some time and would lose concentration and ultimately the concepts wouldn’t be grasped.

Thus Rama says to Lakshmana that Hanuman seems to be an expert in all the above-mentioned skills and thus he’s able to deliver such an excellent speech.

In the next episode we shall see the significance of facial expressions while delivering a speech. We would be able to appreciate the amount of importance Lord Rama gives for this particular aspect. Stay tuned!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 8 – Four key factors for an appealing Corporate Speech

 

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In the previous episode we were able to understand the significance of maintaining a uniform speed of talking during a corporate presentation. We were also able to simultaneously recognize  the importance of certain key elements like the tone (Dhwani) of the speech, pronunciations and maintaining a “Pleasant face” while talking. Today we shall see four important factors that are essential for an appealing speech.

Here, I’m adding an extended explanation to the sloka (verse) stated in the previous episode. The ancient scriptures (Shaastra) lists down four subtle but very important aspects to be taken care of while delivering a lecture or an address. They are “Eethi”, “Sheegri”, “Shirahkampi” and “Likitha paatakaha”. I shall give an explanation about each of the above with the modern day’s relevance.

Eethi – While delivering a lecture, the orator should neither sing in between the talk, nor talk in a way that is musical in nature. The only exception where this rule is not applicable is “Harikatha” (a popular style of discourse that is in praise of Lord Vishnu). The focus should only be on the content of the talk and directly to the point, rather than employing other means like singing to while away the time. This is a way to be precise in what we talk and thus this assumes lot of significance.

Sheegri – The talking should not be way too fast, that the audience wouldn’t be able to understand even a word out of the entire lecture!

Shirahkhampi – While talking, the speaker should not move his head too much. This might distract the audience and the focus on the subject might be lost. The head position is to be maintained still as much as possible throughout the entire talk, and it is also to be ensured that proper eye-contact is maintained with the audience at all times. This is extremely important because the audience might lose focus and feel disconnected when the speaker doesn’t adequately look at them.

Likitha Paatakaha – This means that the speaker should avoid looking into the paper/book/notes while delivering a speech. It should be ensured that the talk happens only with the audience in focus, and not anything else in between. There are two serious repercussions if the speaker goes against this rule. Firstly, the flow of words while talking gets affected if there’s a constant referring to the notes during the lecture. This affects the concentration of the speaker to a great extent and there would be pauses and fillers while talking, which is not a good sign. Secondly, if the person refers too much into the text while talking, it can be understood that he/she is not confident about what is being delivered and hence, the speaker might be in danger of losing respect among the audience. Hence, adequate care is required in this important aspect of delivering a lecture/speech.

Rama says that Hanuman is an expert in all these four aspects, and thus he’s able to deliver such an excellent and a flawless oration.

In the next episode, we shall see the importance of “Diction” and “Reinforcement” during a corporate speech!! Stay tuned!!

 

 

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 7 – How significant is “Speed” during a talk?

 

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In the previous episode we understood the significance of body language of the speaker, while delivering an address. Special emphasis was given to the facial expressions of the person while talking. In today’s episode we would see and appreciate the importance of “Speed” while talking. What does Rama had to say about Hanuman in this particular context? Let’s read on!!

Rama continues in praise of Hanuman:

“Avistharamasanviddham avilambithamadrutham!

Urastham kantakam vaakyam vartathe madhyamasware!!”

 

Rama explains here to Lakshmana that Hanuman has maintained the same speed of speaking throughout the entire duration of his speech.

Here are extremely important corporate learnings: Rama explains that, while delivering a lecture or an address, care should be taken so as to ensure that there is a uniformity in terms of speed and also in terms of the tone (Dhwani). In some cases we might have seen that people start talking at a high tone and putting in lot of energy into it, with long sentences and without taking a breath or a pause in between. This would easily result in the orator becoming tired and exhausted mid-way and because of that, he/she might even start struggling for words. It’s well known that such ways of talking are not permissible in a professional set-up. So, the learning from this verse is that, we should maintain a medium and a uniform speed of talking throughout the entire duration of the conversation.

If the speech is delivered too quickly (for instance, 180-200 words per minute), the orator might not be able to establish a good connect with the audience. On the contrary, if the speech were delivered way too slow with too many pauses in between, this would invariably make the audience go off to sleep! Here, we can understand and infer that both the extreme variations of speeds are not acceptable and thus, a balance should be achieved so that it’s neither too fast nor too slow.

In any language, there are certain alphabets that are to be pronounced with an “open voice”, certain alphabets that are to be pronounced with the “head voice”, certain alphabets that are to be pronounced strongly by exerting energy from the stomach/abdomen and certain alphabets that are to be pronounced by twisting our tongue in certain fashions (today we call them as “tongue-twisters”). Only if proper attention is given to all the above-mentioned methodologies of pronunciation, will our communication be effective for the audience to understand and interpret.

Also, Rama continues to say that Hanuman always had a pleasing smile throughout his oration. This is a very important aspect while talking. A pleasant face is to be maintained for the entire duration of the talk. This is directly related to the psychological aspect of listening and grasping in a human being. Anything that is conveyed with a smile and a pleasant look has more probability of being grasped and interpreted by the audience.

So Rama says here that Hanuman is giving an excellent oration only because he has gained mastery over all the above skills.

In addition to this, there are four very important but subtle aspects that are necessary to give an impactful lecture. What are they? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 6: Some useful tips for an effective Corporate Presentation

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In the previous episode we understood the significance of knowing the Vyaakarnam (Grammar) of a language, coupled with the knowledge of “Tharka Shaastra” (The expertise of employing the apt words for the apt context) and “Bhimaamsa” (The expertise of explaining the context in a highly thought-provoking way) in delivering a good speech. In today’s episode we shall see some important tips as to how to maintain a good body language while delivering a corporate presentation/speech.

Rama says….

 

“Namukhe nethrayoschaapi lalaatecha bruvosthathaa!

Anveshwapicha sarveshu doshassamvidhitam kvachit!!”

 

Rama continues his praise for Hanuman by saying, “Yes. He’s a learned person, and so he talks well.. That’s fine, because this might be seen in many learned scholars elsewhere. But what’s more important is that, the manner in which he talks. His facial expressions were extremely minimal and his eyebrows never shrank. His head was still without any movement. He has spoken with the same beauty of talking for every minute!”

From this point onwards, we’re going to see very important aspects of a good speech, especially for corporate employees who focus on soft skills. We can see the aspects that are extremely important for a person while he/she delivers an address or a corporate presentation.

To begin with, the facial expressions of the person who is presenting the content should be as minimal as possible – In olden days musicians do “Saadagam” (rigorous practice) of music during the early morning hours (also called “Brahma muhurtam”). During this rigorous practice session, it is said that if a person is singing with a pot full of oil on his/her head, not even a single drop of oil should spill out of the pot. In other words, the facial movements should be maintained as minimal as possible and the focus of the presenter should exclusively be on the content of the subject. This is because, if there are too many facial expressions, the focus of the audience would be veered away from the main content of the program and such things are not admissible in a corporate setup. This rule applies for any form of presentation – Be it Music, Oration or a Discourse.

Secondly, the pitch in which the person is talking should be maintained the same from the beginning till the end. For instance, in music, the pitch should be selected according to the capability of the singer’s voice texture. Else if portions of the song goes into a higher or a lower octave, it would be difficult for the singer to reach those high and low points and it sounds awkward during a music concert. Similarly for a speech, the pitch and tone of the presenter should be constant for the entire duration of the presentation and it should not deviate up and down unnecessarily. This might again disturb the focus of the audience on the subject.

So Rama says here that Hanuman is giving an excellent oration only because he has gained mastery over all the above skills.

In the next episode, we shall continue seeing more tips for an effective corporate presentation and there are many more exciting elements to be learnt. Stay tuned!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 5 – Significance of delivering a “Flawless” Address.

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In the previous episode we saw the significance of learning each sect of the Vedas (Rig, Yajur & Saama) to attain different qualities for delivering an excellent oration. In today’s episode we’ll see yet another important quality – The art of delivering an address without flaws.

Rama continues in praise of Hanuman:

Noonam vyaakarnam krisnam anena bahudaashritam!

Bahuvyaakartaanena nakinchit abashabdvitam!!”

 This is a very important sloka (verse). Rama says to Lakshmana “I’ve been keenly watching Hanuman talk for the past fifteen minutes or so. However I couldn’t find even one mistake in the words he used and also in the way he formed his sentences. Some people would speak four words continuously with one mistake in the middle, whereas some people would speak ten words with two or three mistakes in the middle. But for the past fifteen minutes of Hanuman’s speech, I failed to deduct even one mistake in whatever he spoke!

Rama continues, The way he combines the usage of words to form a sentence suggests to me that he has learnt the “Vyaakarnam” (Grammar of the Sanskrit language), “Tarka Shaastra” (The expertise of using the apt words for the apt context) and “Bhimaamsa” (The expertise of explaining a highly thought-provoking research material) thoroughly.

It is to be noted that Hanuman is also called as “Nava-Vyaakarna Pandit” which means that he has mastered all the nine chapters of the Sanskrit grammar. It’s common that the modern-day human being takes minimum twelve years to learn one chapter of “Vyaakarnam” and even this is too difficult for us in the current day. But there are supposed to be nine chapters of Vyaakarnam that exists in the Sanskrit language. It is said that Hanuman, when he was a kid, has learnt all the nine chapters (Vyaakarnam krisnam) from Soorya Bhagavan (The Sun God) within just nine days (One chapter per day, from dawn till dusk).

When Rama says Nakinchit abashabdvitam” in the last part of the verse, he means that Hanuman has that great and a unique skill of being “perfectly precise” in whatever content he conveys.

Here we can learn the importance of putting the apt words to suit the apt context. In a speech, it’s not acceptable if a person uses too many words/phrases that are not apt for that particular context. In any language, if a person has to combine words in the fashion that conveys the exact meaning precisely, he should be an expert in the grammar (Vyaakarnam) of that language. If one has to make sure that he conveys exactly what he wants to convey, he should be an expert in “Tharkka Shaastra” and whatever has to be conveyed, has to be a high-end research content that is thought-provoking and a thought-triggering. For this, one should be an expert in “Bhimaamsa”.

So, Rama says that Hanuman has the expertise on all the above said things and that’s why he’s delivering such an impressive speech.

What are the other important qualities required for delivering a brilliant speech/lecture? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 4 – The Art of “Effective Communication” from the Vedas

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In the previous episode we witnessed how Rama and Lakshmana were amazed and taken aback with the way Hanuman had spoken with them for the first time. We also saw that Rama asked Lakshmana to reply to Hanuman and also the reason behind it. Lakshmana is about to start his reply and Rama interrupts him. What did Rama say to him? We shall see the answer in today’s episode.

Lakshmana is curious and asks Rama why did he stop him even before he started talking. Rama replies that he had never listened to such an excellent and a brilliantly compiled speech from anyone in his life so far. So he cautions Lakshmana to be careful in the way he replies.

Rama goes on further to explain in detail how he admired Hanuman’s speech. Rama has a unique distinction called “Vaakmi Shrimaan”, meaning “An expert in talking”. If Rama himself has to appreciate someone else for his or her speech, we can infer the significance of Hanuman in this context – He has the unique status of being the “Aachaarya” meaning, “The Supreme Teacher” (I shall explain in a later context, why is Hanuman considered to be in this status). Also, one can observe that in the entire Valmiki’s Ramayana there are very few instances wherein Rama praises anybody else, but here, he’s in full praise and appreciation to the way Hanuman crafted his speech.

This is going to be a good learning for all of us – How to deliver an excellent and an eye-catching speech? How do we conduct ourselves in front of a group of audience? What are the things to do and things to avoid?

Rama himself gives a detailed accord and says that all these characteristics are imbibed in Hanuman and that’s the reason why he talks so well! To begin with, we can look into a verse from a very famous text called “Thirukkural” written by Thiruvalluvar in Tamil. It states the following:

“Iniya ulavaaga innaadha kooral kani iruppakkaai kavarndhattru!!”

 

Thiruvalluvar says that, a person should never employ a bad or a filthy language to address another person, whomsoever he/she might be. The language that we use should be pleasing for the audience to listen to. People should not feel irritated or bored in listening to our talk. Hence in this way, Rama tells Lakshmana through five to six slokas (verses) on the important characteristics of an excellent and a well-crafted speech.  Starting today, we shall explore one by one in subsequent episodes to gain a detailed understanding.

 

“Naanrig veda vineetasya naa yajur veda dhaarinaha!

Naa saama veda vidushaha sakhyamevam prabhaashitum!!”

 

In this above verse, Rama says that if a person hasn’t learnt the Rig Veda or Yajur Veda or Saama Veda thoroughly, he cannot talk excellently like this. We can note at this point that, by learning each sect of the Vedas, one can attain different characteristics.

Only if one learns the Rig-veda thoroughly, he would be able to get the “Politeness” and “Humility” (also called “Vinayam” in Sanskrit) while talking.

Only if one learns the Yajur-veda, he will attain the power of “remembering” things (also called “Dhaarana Shakti” in Sanskrit) in his mind perfectly. This is because, in Yajur-veda there are lots of verses that are very tough to pronounce, read and remember. Only if a person by-hearts the entire text and keeps recollecting it frequently, he would be able to remember everything. Hence, here comes the significance of having a good memory through adequate reinforcement of the learning. 

Only if a person learns the Saama-veda, he would attain the power of shrewdness and the ability to understand the depth of a subject easily (also called “Vaidushya Buddhi” in Sanskrit). 

Hence, it is evident from the first sloka (verse) that an orator should be able to imbibe “humility” in his talk, coupled with the power of remembering the subject with adequate capability of memorizing and reinforcing it in his/her mind. Also, for the address to be effective, the speaker should be able to understand and explain the subject in an “In-depth” manner.

Rama says that only because Hanuman has a mastery over every sect of the Vedas he’s able to craft his speech this well.

What are the other essential aspects of a well-compiled speech? We shall wait for the next episode to find out!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 3 – Rama’s response to Hanuman

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In the previous episode we saw that Hanuman is approaching Rama & Lakshmana as per the direction given by Sugriva. Hanuman starts talking and Rama and Lakshmana are in complete awe with the way he’s is giving his introductory talk. Both the brothers are waiting patiently till he completes his accord. Once it’s over, Rama takes a deep breath and looks at Lakshmana who’s at his side and says the following:

Eva muktvaa tu hanumaanstou veerau raamalakshmanau!

Vaakyagnau vaakya kushalaha punarnovaacha kinchana!!

Ethachruthva vachastasya raamo lakshmanamabraveeth!

Prahrushta vadanashreemaan bhraatharam paarshvathassthitham!!” 

Rama looks at Lakshmana with a smiling, pleasant and a beaming face due to the admiration of the speech given by Hanuman. He’s clearly overwhelmed with the way Hanuman spoke, and says to Lakshmana the following:

“Thamabhya baasha saumithri sugriva sachivam kapim!

Vaakyagnau madhurair vaakyayihi snehamutthamarindhamau!!”

By the above verse Rama says to Lakshmana, “Oh Saumithri!! (Another name of Lakshmana meaning the son of Sumithra Devi) This person by name Hanuman has come in front of us, introducing himself as the minister of the Vanara King Sugriva. I’m so impressed with the way he’s talking to us. Hence, you address him by introducing us and by explaining to him as to why we’re here!”

Here comes an important clarification: Why is Rama asking Lakshmana to speak to Hanuman? Why doesn’t he initiate the reply by himself?

To answer this question, it is to be understood that there’s a “Raaja Dharma” (The righteous duty of a king) that clearly mentions who should talk with whom. In other words, only a king should address another king and a minister should address the minister of another king. This implies that a king should not directly address the minister of another king. Rama continues, “Had Sugriva come in person, then I would have initiated the conversation by myself. But Hanuman has come here, introducing himself to be Sugriva’s minister. Oh dear Lakshmana… In this dense forest where will I go in search of a minister for myself? You’re my minister, my father, my brother – You’re everything for me. Hence, you take up the role of my minister and initiate the conversation with Hanuman!”

After hearing this from his brother, Lakshmana stands up and prepares himself to address Hanuman. At that very moment when Lakshmana is about to begin his reply, Rama stops him again. Lakshmana gets puzzled as to why is his brother stopping him from proceeding further.

We shall also wait till the next episode to find out the reason!!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 2 – Hanuman confronts with Rama & Lakshmana for the first time

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As mentioned in the previous episode, Hanuman takes the form of a “Bikshu” or a “Sanyaasin” (Brahmin/Saint) and appears in front of Rama and Lakshmana.

“Kapi roopam parityajya hanumaan maarutaatmajaha!

Bhikshu roopam tatho bheje shatabuddhi daya kapihi!!”

This is a very interesting and a thought provoking moment.. When Hanuman comes in front of Rama & Lakshmana, he initially doesn’t have the courage to reveal his true self. There was no honesty in him because of the fear for Vaali. His initial agenda was to know everything about the two princes, but without revealing anything about who he was. But when he sets his eyes on the handsome and the pleasing Rama, he bows down to him, gets up and straightaway blurts out “I’m Hanuman”!! Why did he blurt out the truth about himself in his first conversation itself? What made him do that, even though he didn’t want to reveal himself to Rama? Here’s a deeper inner meaning to this context. It can be understood with the help of the following sloka (verse):

“Vidyate hridayat grantihi chityante sarva samshayaaha!

Kshiyantechascha karmaani tasmin drishe paraavare!!”

This verse tells us that if we worship the Lord face to face in person, all our sins get washed away at that very moment itself. It’s only because of our enormous amount of sins that we do not have the honesty in us. Once all our sins get washed away, we would automatically become honest and straightforward in our thoughts and actions! Now in this context, we see that Hanuman has worshipped the Lord face to face, and all his sins were washed away instantaneously and thus as a result, he became automatically honest and straightforward and thus he straightaway reveals to Rama that he’s Hanuman!!
Another inner meaning to this context is that, Hanuman had been blessed and bestowed with the “Brahma-Gnyaana” (the supreme ability to realize the divine) by Lord Brahma (the Creator of the universe), during his early childhood days. Lord Brahma had then said to Hanumaan, “Upon seeing ‘someone’ in front of you, when your bones would melt and your body bows down automatically with your eyes filled with tears of joy, love and devotion, you’ll realize that this ‘someone’ is the supreme divine!!” So, Hanuman now sees this ‘someone’ in Lord Rama, and he straightaway became honest and expressed his true self!
Hanuman continues to confront Rama and Lakshmana, “I’m Hanuman, minister of the Vanara king Sugriva.. We’re hiding amidst this mountain due to the fear for Vaali, the brother of Sugriva… Both of you seem to be great princes from a great kingdom. Why are you roaming around in a dense forest like this? Why did you come here? Who are you looking for in this place? Your ‘Lakshanas’ (body features), your straightforward vision, your upright posture and the way you hold the bow – All of these suggest to me that you are great warriors. So please tell me who are you both!”
Hanuman talks on for fifteen minutes continuously as Rama & Lakshmana look on with great awe. Rama waits patiently till Hanuman completes his talking. Here’s a very important learning: When a person talks or delivers an address, we should always allow him/her to finish fully and never interfere in the middle of the talk! Hanuman, after talking for fifteen long minutes suddenly realizes that he’s talking a bit too much. So he decides to keep quiet and wants to listen from Rama & Lakshmana.
How did Rama and Lakshmana respond to Hanuman’s speech? The answers lie in the next episode!

Hanumad Prabhaavam # 1 – Setting up the context of discussion

Rama (The incarnate of Lord Vishnu) walks his way southwards from the village of “Panchavati” (This village exists even today, some 10 kilometers from the town of Nashik, on the banks of the river Godavari, in the state of Maharashtra, India) in search of his beloved wife Sita  (The incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi) who had been abducted by the “Rakshasa” (Demon) King Ravana. Lakshmana accompanies his brother Rama and they reach a place called “Kishkinta” surrounded by the “Rishyamukha” mountain range, alongside a huge sprawling lake by name “Pampa-Sarovar” (This place can be visited even today, near the towns “Hampi” and “Hospet” on the banks of the river “Tungabadra”, in the south-Indian state of Karnataka). It was in this “Rishyamukha” mountain range that “Sugriva” – the “Vaanara” king was residing along with his companions like Hanuman, Angada, Jaambhavan, etc. Sugriva had issues with his elder brother “Vaali” and subsequently was chased away  from the “Vanara” kingdom. He was hiding and taking refuge amidst this mountain due to the fear of being killed by Vaali.

It was at this moment that Rama and Lakshmana make their way to this particular spot in search of Sugriva, to seek his help in the pursuit of Sita Devi. Seeing these two young, handsome and well-built princes, Sugriva has two kinds of thoughts: Firstly he feels afraid and has a doubt whether Vaali had sent them to kill him. Secondly he spots an opportunity – If Vaali hasn’t sent them, perhaps he could use them as an opportunity to kill Vaali. Hence he sends his minister Hanuman to enquire the details of their whereabouts and what’s the purpose of their visit. Accordingly, Hanuman comes in front of Rama and Lakshmana taking the form of a “Bhikshu” (a Brahmin). Rama and Lakshmana see Hanuman advancing towards them and they’re eager to know whom this person is. Similarly Hanuman is equally curious to know who these two young and handsome princes were.

The conversation starts here. In the following episodes, I shall drive you into the intricate details of the conversation between Hanuman and the two princes – Rama & Lakshmana. It’s extremely interesting to note that these details have extensive relevance to the modern day corporate world, in terms of doing presentations, delivering impactful speeches, etc.  In every following episode I shall take important quotes from Valmiki Ramayana so as to explain each context.