What is the one quality that defines a good leader? The ability to speak effectively would certainly top the list. 

Remember Winston Churchill and his “we shall fight on the beaches” speech? He spoke with passion. He spoke with empathy. And he spoke with compassion. 

That’s what great speeches are all about. Speaking powerfully and effectively. Especially during a crisis. 

And that’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to the nation about extending the lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic was about.  

He spoke with empathy and compassion. And he spoke with clarity and purpose. 

Speaking effectively is a skill you can’t learn in a classroom, but there is a broad framework to be a good communicator: The Harappa PAM Framework. This basically means you should have a purpose, audience, and message to speak effectively. 

Prime Minister Modi’s speech was a classic example of using the PAM framework for effective speaking.

Let’s look at it in detail. 

Purpose: Why is the subject, in this case, the prime minister, addressing the audience? 

This one is fairly simple: to inform them about the lockdown extension right? 

But that wasn’t all. While he did give out a specific date (May 3, 2020) until when the lockdown would extend to, he also had another purpose: to thank people for sacrificing their own needs and desires and putting the health of the country first, by staying indoors. 

Audience: Who is the subject addressing?

They say that to put your message forward, you need to know your audience. But how do you do that if your audience is 1.3 billion people?

Prime Minister Modi’s speech gives a lot of clarity as to how one should go about addressing large audiences, particularly in such a stressful time. 

With many states across the country celebrating the beginning of harvest season in the middle of a nationwide quarantine, he first acknowledged the farmers and reassured them by saying that this was certainly not the best time to inform people about a lockdown extension. 

He also made it a point to acknowledge and address workers in essential services such as those who manage food supply. Lastly, he reached out to daily wage earners and addressed the fact that this was indeed a difficult period for them and that the new lockdown guidelines were being crafted with their troubles in mind. 

Without these two sectors, the nation would not be able to continue in a state of lockdown. The prime minister acknowledged this fact by saying that the nation was deeply thankful to the people putting their lives and livelihoods on the line so that we can be safe in our homes.

Message: What is the subject saying?

The prime minister’s speech had three main messages: announcing the lockdown date, reassuring the country about having the ability to deal with the coronavirus, and asking citizens to do seven things to help the country’s fight against the virus.

After acknowledging the struggles of people across the country, the prime minister moved into reassurance mode. He said India was doing well in the fight against the coronavirus because people across the country were diligently following the lockdown. 

He reassured people there was no shortage of food and medicine, and that the government would take every step possible to ensure that the harvest continued as planned.

As an incentive to stay indoors, he announced that the lockdown could be suspended in places where no cases were being detected, on the condition that people did not abuse their freedom and still observed social distancing.

Lastly, he spoke about seven things to do in the middle of the extended lockdown. Most importantly, he asked organizations across the country to not fire their employees and laborers due to the economic crisis created by the coronavirus. 

He also asked people to continue following social distancing norms, help the poor, and take special care of the elderly. 

The message was clear: We will overcome this crisis and can all contribute in our own special way to fight the virus. 

We can all use the PAM Framework in our lives to be effective communicators. Just like Prime Minister Modi did in his speech: He had a clear purpose, audience, and message. You too can use this framework next time and wow your audience.


Explore topics such as Public SpeakingAudience AnalysisTone of Voice7 C's of communication, and the Elements of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your soft skills.

Shubhayan is an Associate Specialist in the Curriculum Team. A graduate of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Shubhayan enjoys laughing at his own jokes and playing the bass guitar.

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