Amith Prabhu: What corporate spokespersons can learn from the Narendra Modi interview on Times Now?

12 May,2014

By Amith Prabhu


I wrote a column soon after the Rahul Gandhi interview three months ago – and to be fair I’m writing one in the aftermath of the Narendra Modi interview on Times Now this past week. These are observations that can be used to train corporate spokespersons. However one must realize that Modi has been led a public life for over 40 years and much of his acumen comes from the experiences he has gathered as a CM in the last 14 years.


It is worth watching the interview in order to make sense of this column. Some of the techniques used in the interview were very clever like the man. For example, pretending to be a great listener came across strongly throughout but he gave it away umpteen times by cutting short the interviewer when he found the question uncomfortable.


He showed his animosity towards the interviewer and the TV channel on several occasions. He kept his answers short and ensured he conveyed a sense of bluntness. In instances when he felt cornered he used smart one-liners or asked for explanations from the interviewer in order to proceed. All in all, his mind showed clarity but his body language showed discomfort. But the best part was that he chose not to walk away like he did the previous time he was on an English channel.


Some of the smart things he did were to use talk about some of his actions in a matter of fact manner and earn some brownie points. Two examples of this was when he spoke of sending Sonia Gandhi flowers wishing her a speedy recovery when she was unwell or when he said he has never worked but it is his team that works so hard but he gets the credit that is due to them.


So what are the five key takeaways for dealing with interviews better? Firstly, to control the interview in speech and spirit which he did with aplomb. Secondly, he tackled every question the way he wanted to and put the interviewer in his place at every given opportunity. Thirdly, he called a spade a spade without mincing words because he had told himself he had nothing to lose, Fourthly, he used random actions of the past to come across as a better person than he is and projected himself as larger than life. Lastly, he did not ramble but ensured his responses were blunt and to the point.


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