"I Was Rather Shy So for Me Becoming a Public Speaker Was a Surprise." - Devan Bhalla

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1. Tell us more about what you do and what led you to speak on this platform.

Well I am a marketer by choice and am passionate about brand management and analytics. I am currently serving as the Deputy General Manager for Brand & Growth at Amar Ujala, one of the leading media houses of the country. I have worked for firms like IndiaMART, McKinsey&Co to name a few. I am passionate about public speaking ever since I took to the TEDx stage at a salon event at NIT Rourkela. 

It just gave me a whole new perspective of how communications is an integral part of marketing and I see it as an extension of my role. I got an invite to share my experience as a public speaker and as more and more people are opening up to online media and discussions, it is imperative to bring forward this exciting domain of public speaking to the fore.

2. How do you choose and prepare for a talk?

Well for TEDx salon event, I was given a topic by the time on the lines of ‘Solving the Unsolved’. But, when I get invited from educational institutions from across the country, I try and do a 3 step analysis to figure out which could be the best-fit topic:

  • Who: Who is the session for? Is it for engineering students, pharma students, undergrad students or B-School students?

  • What: What would they be most interested in to learn about? Are they looking out for jobs, learning something new in marketing or brand management?
  • How: How will the message be delivered? Less text, more infographic, more examples, video or just an audio format?

Based on the above three pointers, I prepare a draft of what key points to cover during the session/workshop. As I prepare the ppt, I ensure that I have the flow etched out in my mind. I go through the ppt/talk once before I take to the stage or before the webinar goes live. Its always better to go through your talk once .

3. How can one become a public speaker?

Well, I was rather shy so for me becoming a public speaker was a surprise to my friends and peers. It just happened and thus, I can just say that public speaking is actually a conversation that you have with people whom you do not know. One needs to just take that first step and share what’s on your mind and in your heart in the simplest possible language aka layman language. 

The more heart you put to your talk, the better it becomes. If you are looking to start out as a public speaker, just take a phone, record a video and share it in your social media networks. Just remember to take that feedback and improve upon self.

4. Can motivational speaking become a full time career?

Well I definitely do it due to sheer passion of engaging with peers and students. I believe if one builds a personal brand for themselves then they can definitely pursue this as a career. In addition, a public speaker can also take up roles of a coach, trainer, have a YouTube channel and so much more. 

5. Which is your favourite talk ever and how did it change your life?

Well there are numerous which are my favourites but the one that really stood out for me was Robert Waldinger’s ‘What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.’ Now this video stood out for me for a number of reasons:

  • Art of Conversation: The entire talk was conducted in a very organic manner. Be it the tone of the speaker’s voice, to the welcoming nature of his body language and the use of rhetoric, everything tied up brilliantly.
  • Content: The talk was backed up by a very strong study which laid emphasis on some key takeaways which are applicable for all and thus makes the virality of this talk possible.
  • Emotional Connect: The study might be data but the way it was presented was very humane. It opened up the talk a lot more when the secret to a happier life was revealed as not money, fame and the other things which we run after but happier and closeness in relationships. 

It has stayed on with me ever since and made me more considerate of others.

6. What are the best public speaking tips that have worked for you?

To speak with your heart. I actually try and understand the audience beforehand and place myself in their shoes and try and understand what they might be thinking. I completed my Master’s in 2017 so I am able to place myself as a college student. While I have been interacting with professionals across all age groups, so that interaction enables me to address the unique needs of professionals as well. 

No matter who your target audience is, just remember that you should genuinely try and bring awareness about what you are trying to convey in a layman language in the form of a story. Experience creation is something that depends upon the story teller and his skills. A talk is like a story as you take the audience on a journey, a journey that you have created for them. The experience you leave someone with at the end of the talk, is your success.  

7. What impact do you want to make in the world?

Well I have a learning from my experience so far. That is to do things that bring growth in life. Be it building active communities of students and professionals or engaging in more meaningful work. The core is that I would want my name to live on more than my stay on this planet. It is about how many people can I impact in a positive way be it through my profession and passion as for me both are the same.

8. Which is your favourite book and why?  

Well, no single favorite here either but I love the book by Al Ries and Jack Trout, ‘’Positioning: The battle for your mind’. It has some critical lessons for those who want to understand how brands are built and how the human mind works when it is about creating a space in their thoughts. It takes a unique perspective and has a voice which I am in love with. Anyone who wants to pursue a career in marketing and branding, should refer that book for sure .

Interviewed by - Rajit Shubra Ghosh.

"I Was Rather Shy So for Me Becoming a Public Speaker Was a Surprise." - Devan Bhalla "I Was Rather Shy So for Me Becoming a Public Speaker Was a Surprise." - Devan Bhalla Reviewed by Rajit Shubra Ghosh on June 22, 2020 Rating: 5

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