Monday, March 21, 2011

Hindu Identity

This year, the Women's Conference has a talk on Hindu Identity. Let's try the three question method for this topic. We will focus on making this a presentation; however, the same ideas could be modified for a panel discussion.

Step 1: What is my simple message?

The material given with this talk outlines many points that could make up our simple message:
  • What does it mean to be a Hindu?
  • How do we practice being a Hindu?
  • What mindsets, values, or ways of thought are the foundations of Hindu life?
  • What does it mean to me to be a Hindu?
  • How does the world interact with Hinduism?
The key here is to understand that while all these questions are interesting and pertinent, it behooves us to choose just one of these questions to address. Many people falter here since they start their talk preparation by thinking of all things they want to address within the topic (they are excited, it is an interesting topic, they have a great deal to say). Combine this excitement with the fact that the matter supplied for the talk gives great guidance and outlines many salient points, things can get out of hand. In many cases, outlines snowball out of control, and we wind up with a talk that lacks focus. For the talk to be sticky, we need to really think about our one simple message.

If we were tackling this talk the simple statement that we would want to convey to the audience would be:

Hinduism is peace and bliss.

We identify ourselves as Hindus because it gives us peace and bliss.

We inculcate the rituals and beliefs of Hinduism to our children because we want them to experience the same peace and bliss.

Step 2: What stories will I use to drive this message home?

Again, the matter supplied with this topics outlines many insightful examples. They also give the sage advice to give personal anecdotes. They key to all this is to frame these supporting point as a story. Entertain me, then I will listen to your message - this is what every audience is thinking. A personal story of how practicing puja can lead to handling stress better goes a long way if it is told as a story. Hence, we need to paint a picture, give details, make it personal, and use emotion.

Step 3: How will I grab the audience's attention?

This talk screams Lessing Method, especially the version that Dick Hardt used so well in his OSCON talk. The video is embedded below; his topic was identity 2.0. It would be epic if someone could adapt this method for this talk.

Another idea of something unexpected could be to show how identity in language, food, and culture (bhasha, bhojan, bhoosha) is slowly eroding, and then contrast that with the fact that true identity is finding bliss. This video will get people thinking.

Whatever the case, stickiness rests in three questions, so take some time to ask these questions to avoid the beast known as boredom.

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