"Humans think in stories, and we try to make sense of the world by telling stories."
- Yuval Noah Harari

"High-stakes communication matters". Are you ready for your ‘Sattar minute’ moment?

“Sattar Minute”

A packed locker room. About 15 young women are nervously getting their hockey kits and gear ready for the big match. A man in a starched white shirt strides purposefully into the room and makes his presence known. All girls stand up, facing him. He has their full attention. He looks at them. And starts in his commanding voice:

“Sattar Minute. Sattar minute hai tumhaare paas”

(Seventy minutes. All you have is seventy minutes).



The essence of that iconic speech was this: The next seventy minutes, comprising the upcoming final match, will be the most important seventy minutes of your life. So, go out and play your best hockey today… so that, whether you win or lose, no one can snatch away the memory of these seventy minutes from you.

In case you’ve not seen it, this is an iconic scene from the blockbuster Bollywood hit, ‘Chak de India’ featuring superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

The movie - based on real-life events - chronicles the story of the stunning victory of the unfancied Indian women’s hockey team in an international tournament.

To me though, this scene is a great metaphor for life.

In life, especially at work, not all moments are created equal.

Some moments desire, deserve, nay, demand your highest levels of preparation.

One such moment that I am particularly interested in is the ‘High-stakes Communication Event’ at work. Examples of such moments are:

The impact of your work in these moments can last for months, if not years - both on yourself and your organization.

I still remember one such incident of mine.

Around 2009-10, a large industrial conglomerate based in Bangalore was entering the healthcare delivery space. They wanted to set up a large hospital focused on two specialties - orthopedics and neurosciences. They had already roped in a leading neurosurgeon to be part of the founding team.

I was part of a management consulting team that was preparing the business plan and strategy for that venture.

Their remit to us was: Figure out how to make an ortho-neuro hospital work. We studied the data. Looked at several other such hospitals in the city. In other cities. In other states. And finally came to a conclusion: it would not work.

Essentially, the group was not looking at this as a charitable venture. Their ambition was to build a financially sustainable operation. So, we had a different message for them: In order to make your hospital viable, you will need to include other specialties too. Especially cardiac care.

It was a tough sell. The founder and the neurosurgeon had almost made up their mind about the hospital’s configuration... and we were just external consultants, working with them for the first time.

But we persevered. Used more data. Built a compelling narrative. Used simple visuals. Continued to make our point politely but firmly.

And finally, over a series of meetings, we convinced them to go with our suggestion.

Today that hospital is a leading multi-specialty center-of-excellence in the city. With an especially flourishing cardiac practice!

And it was all because we took those succession of “Sattar minutes” seriously.

Imagine! Just because we ensured that we told the best story possible during those high-stakes communication events, it changed the complete trajectory of that organization (and the state of healthcare in the city of Bangalore).

How can you change your organisation’s trajectory in your next high-stakes meeting?

You may have done great work to prepare for the event. Dug out all the data. Verified it, cleaned it up, analysed it.

But are you telling a compelling story with that data?
A story that gives your audience clarity?
A story that engages them?
And a story that makes them go: “Let’s do it”

High stakes communication events matter. And you can make the most of them by telling a great story.

This website will tell you how. Hop over to the Services section to learn about the learning offerings that I have, or head to the Content Hub to learn more about storytelling through blog posts, podcast episodes, and other resources.


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