Over 25 years ago, my husband and I joined Toastmasters International, a public speaking and leadership organization.
Over the years, we've learned there are many components to delivering a good speech that go beyond just the delivery. Here are four that I hear often:
- Know your audience.
- Focus your content on the WIIFM ("What's In It For Them").
- Give your audience the power to act.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat your key point.
In the 1987 film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Raj Malhotra (Shah Rukh Khan) does all of these. On the day of Simran's wedding to Kuljit, Simran's father Baldev discovers a photograph of Raj and Simran in Europe. He realises that Raj is the boy Simran had talked about before they came to India. When Raj arrives that morning, Baldev thrashes him and openly insults him:
Baldev: You enter my house, and before my family you play with my honor? You have deceived me! You have taken advantage of our trust! You made a joke out of our cordiality! How dare you have an affair with Simran! Did you imagine you'd marry Simran? You aren't even worthy of yourself! How can you be worthy of Simran? I was right about you. Liars, wastrels like you never improve. They only become worse!
Simran rushes to Raj's side to stop her father and declares her love for Raj.
Raj then delivers a heartwrenching speech that focuses on an audience of one (Baldev) and explains the WIIFM to him (Raj truly loves Simran and wants the best for her). Besides addressing each of the accusations made by Baldev, what makes this speech work well is the eye contact that Raj makes throughout. Despite the tears and sadness, you can sense the confidence he has in the truth of their love.
Simran: (To Raj) Didn't I tell you to take me away? No one cares for our love! Didn't I say, let's elope?
Raj: No, Simran, no. You can only run from strangers. From the ones we call our own where could we run away to?
(Looking at Baldev) Our elders are our parents. They've brought us up all our lives.
(Looking at Simran) They gave us so much love. They can decide better than we can about our lives. We have no right to make them sad for the sake of our happiness.
(Looking at Baldev) Babuji is right. I am a liar, a cheat.
(Looking at Simran) Even if I lied for your sake, a lie is always a lie.
(Looking at Baldev) Babuji is right. I'm not worthy of you ...
(Looking at Simran) ... and so what if I can see nothing beyond you? And so what if I can remember no one but you?
(Looking at Baldev) Babuji is right. I'm a wastrel.
(Looking at Simran) How did I think of marrying you? So what if this wastrel loves you like a madman?
(Looking at Baldev) Love isn't everything, is it?
(Looking at Simran) Babuji is right, Simran.
(Looking at Baldev) Babuji is right.
(Silently walks Simran to Baldev) Here you are Babuji. Take your daughter.
(Releases Simran and puts his hands together in respect for Baldev) I didn't come here to break anyone's heart. I just wanted to win hearts. Maybe I fall short of expectations. Maybe that's why I couldn't win you over. If you think Kuljit will make Simran happier (glances at Simran then back at Baldev) ... then you're right. What's best for Simran, you know best. Forgive me.
Raj gives Baldev back his daughter - as if she was his to return. Through this short speech and simple act, Raj publicly and respectfully restores Baldev's honor and turns all the power over to him so he can make the final decision about Simran's future.
Throughout this impassioned speech, Raj repeats that "Baldev is right". But each time, he also introduces potential faults in Baldev's understanding of right and wrong. So the repetition of the key point here is not so much that Baldev is right, but that maybe he needs to rethink what is right and wrong in this situation.
And that, in the end, may make all the difference.
Read other posts about Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, written and directed by Aditya Chopra.