for ISKCON News on Nov. 16, 2012
Anuttama Das explains the principles of effective communications to the participants of the seminar
The importance of communication is well known. But the art of effective communication is mostly unknown. For the members of ISKCON, communication is vital because it is required to spread the timeless wisdom of Vedic literatures as propounded by Srila Prabhupada.
A three-day communication course held from the 28th – 30th October at ISKCON Kolkata tried to deal with this subject matter. Members from several ISKCON centers like Australia, Chennai, Bihar, Orissa, Bangalore, Habibpur, Kolkata and Delhi participated.
Anuttama Das, a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON’s International Director of Communications, was the faculty for the communication course.
Day 1 began at 10:15 a.m. with a melodious Hare Krishna kirtan. Acharya Ratan Das, Vice – President of ISKCON Kolkata, welcomed all the participants.
Anuttama Das is well known in ISKCON for his witty yet powerful communication skills. He began the class by elucidating the need to hone the communication skill in this modern age. He emphasised that the communication by ISKCON members should be as per the guidelines laid down by Srila Prabhupada. Principles and values of effective communication should be based on:
1. Consistency with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and examples.
2. Consideration of time, place and circumstances.
3. Pro – activity.
4. Building interdependent relationship.
5. Exemplary character and behaviour.
One of the most important communication sutras which Anuttama Das emphasised was on understanding the “Needs, Interests and Concerns” of the audience, which would differ as per time, place and circumstances.
On the second day, the nitty-gritty of public speaking was discussed. It’s so essential for ISKCON devotees. But unfortunately many have a blanket approach while addressing the people. They believe that same message is suitable for all sets of audiences. It is imperative to do substantial research about the audience and the subject matter before speaking in a public forum. Strong opening, relevant examples and strong ending which are critical for effective public speaking were discussed.
Anuttama Das ensured that everyone gets a practical experience of public speaking. Participants were randomly picked up and were asked to speak on a topic for a minute. It was like an extempore speech. Later everyone was divided into groups and was given certain topics like – “Explaining four regulative principles to youngsters”, “Promoting the cause of ISKCON to the government officials”, “Speaking about the importance of Hare Krishna Mahamantra to a group of journalists” etc. One of the members from each group spoke for 2 minutes about their topic keeping their audience in mind.
Not only “speaking” is important but “listening” is also equally essential. To be a good communicator one needs to be an empathic listener. This fact was also elaborately discussed.
One of the key audiences which are generally taken for granted is the internal audience – the fellow ISKCON members.
"Live" television interviews at the seminar
One of the major highlights of the day 3 was the “live television interview”. Participants were put in front of the TV camera and were made to answer tough questions which were put forth by the interviewer. The interviewer was Anuttama Das himself who has gone through many challenging TV interviews. Vrajendra Nandan Das who is Director of Communications of ISKCON India shared his experience of interacting with media. He gave valuable tips as how one can cultivate good relationships with the news reporters and also how to give TV interviews.
At the end of the third day certificates were distributed to all and group photographs were taken. Every participant shared their contact details and promised to communicate with each other on a regular basis.