Thursday, February 9, 2012

Presenting Vicharan

Several Sabhaologists have inquired about tips for giving a Vicharan presentation in sabha.

"Most times, there is little to no material in the syllabus for this. As a presenter and even as a sabha sanchalak I find myself showing a video from of Swami's vicharan. Of course there's no story there, no context (except when it's an utsav and there is some topical tableau setup for Swamishri), and no words."

So this week, let's break down Vicharan. The beauty of this method is that no syllabus is required.

Think of the last time you saw some late-breaking news update and that sense of excitement and interest it generates. We want to drum up the same type of sentiment here and may as well be your shakeup start.

  • We have late breaking news about Swamishri. 
  • What is Swamishri doing right now?
  • What happened last week with Swamishri?
  • If you were traveling with Swamishri, what would you be experiencing?

Indeed, it's a tough one as everyone knows what is about to happen, but there are still some things we can do.

  • Pictures from website
  • Videos from website
  • Use a story

For example, two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on either sides of the road. At one plac,e a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder monk approached her, lifted her into his arms, carrier her to the other side of the road, and continued on his way to the monastery.

Later in the evening, the younger monk inquired, "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?"

The elder monk answered "yes, brother".

"But then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside?"

The elder monk smiled at him, "I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her. "

This story is unexpected, now use this to relate to Swamishri. He exemplifies this vairagya. As the pictures are rolling on screen, we can emphasize this. Here is Swamishri in Mumbai Mandir, but he is detached from all the things around him.

Gather prasangs from the website, including Bliss.We can even relate older prasangs that fit into what is happening now.

Look at this picture

We can clearly see that Bapa has just had his mundan done (shaving of hair and beard).

Now we may not know any prasangs that happened during this mundan, but we do know older prasangs
pertaining to his mundan, like the one featured on today's daily prasang:

"In Sarangpur on July 3rd, 1998, it was the night before mundan (monthly shave). To enable everyone to have darshan of Swamishri's mundan, a barber's chair, which was of adjustable height, had been brought. Swamishri was shown the chair.

Meanwhile, Gnaneshwar Swami asked Swamishri, "When you were young, did the barber come to your house to give you a hair cut?"

"Yes," replied Swamishri, "the barber had been contracted. In return for his services, he would get some grains. He would know when to come, so he came regularly ."

Then, Shvetvaikunth Swami asked, "How did you part your hair - on the side or in the middle?"

"On the side," Swamishri replied!

Everyone smiled with joy on hearing Swamishri's innocent and honest reply."

So while showing these pictures, we can say that in Mumbai, Swamishri just had his mundan done. In 1998, Swamishri had his mundan done in Sarangpur and something interesting happened; he revealed bits of childhood.

Vicharan comes around once a month, so don't let this opportunity go to hone in on a unique style of presenting. It's not rocket science, and approaching it with the science of Sabhaology can help the audience samjan of Swamishri soar to new heights.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Simple - I know it when I see it.

We have been working with some balaks on speaking skills with a focus on simple, unexpected, and stories. It was interesting that the balaks seem to get tripped up on simple (the other two the get right away). What do you mean by simple? It turns out that this is a really deep questions. In Made To Stick there was a large section  of the book that explored this idea. I keep coming back to the notion that you know simple when you see it. For example:

The iPhone interface is simple (but not simplistic).

Today (2/3/2012) is a good day to check out the following simple (but not simplistic) website.

In both these examples the purpose is clearly defined and the interface reflects exactly that. In giving our talks we must first really understand the material and then synthesize what message we want to convey. This takes time and most people skip this step. However it is time well spent since it is really understanding what you want to say that enable you to say things elegantly. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unconventional Advice

Every so often, we stumble upon some unorthodoxy that has the potential to shake up our speaking for the better, like this recent LifeHacker article.

    All I want for Christmas is a 2 dimensional reduction
  • Dribble Twice, Spin Once: Basketball fans will recognize the pre-shot patterns of basketball players to better focus themselves. Preceding our presentation, a similar routine can help shake some nerves and build confidence.
  • Death to Powerpoint: Slides often stymie our natural ability to express ourselves, so use Powerpoint with discretion.
  • Speak to Two People: Eye contact can rattle the new speaker, but focusing on two people in the room keeps things in perspective.
  • Embace Your Ums: Focus on your natural storytelling ability, and the audience will seemingly gloss over those pesky words.
  • Don't Memorize: Rehearsing can help us develop our flow, but memorization just renders us mechanical and inorganic.
  • Practice with Live Ammunition: Set yourself to speak publicly to capture a true simulation. With practice, we can feel accustomed to this arena and excel.
Twist things up with these tidbits of advice, and let us know how they end up working out!