“The greatest thing Harry Potter has given the world, is the freedom to use our imagination” – Oprah Winfrey.
The Harry Potter books penned by the prolific wordsmith J.K. Rowling are one of the most imaginative, magical and captivating stories ever written.
Hidden in this beautiful series of books are messages of love, friendship, family, courage and many more inspiring life lessons. The books and movies have touched millions of people all over the world. The strong characters have inspired many to take up debates and issues which the book addresses – from libertarianism to feminism to civil rights to raising their voices against power struggles, bigotry, and violence.
J.W. Eagan sensibly said, ‘Never judge a book by its movie.” However, the Harry Potter series is a rare instance of the films complementing the books exceedingly well. Yes, they do not cover all the details, but they do justice to most of the books in the 2-3 hours that is the length of a feature film. The level of detail from art design, to sets, to special effects, to the conviction of the characters portrayed bring alive the enchanting world of Harry Potter. I suspect the close association of the author with the films might have something to do with this.
J.K. Rowling’s sparkling wit, humor and exceptional ability to deliver simple insights with great impact are seen in these several quotes that went on to become extremely popular with fans. Notable among these are those belonging to Albus Dumbledore, who in many ways was her voice in the books.
Here is a pick of some of the best quotes about life lessons relating to different topics:
On coping with loss:
Dumbledore reminds Harry to live in the present moment and not dream of a past gone or a future that could have been.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Courage comes in various forms, it’s not just about fighting your enemies like Harry, Ron and Hermione demonstrate, but also about confronting your friends like Neville shows us.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” ― Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Dumbledore points out to Harry the wisdom of accepting our mortality and not fearing the end but looking upon it as an opportunity for a new beginning.
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ― Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
You are a consequence of your choices in life. It doesn’t matter how capable or talented you are, it’s what you do that makes a difference in the world. We are who we choose to become.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ― Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Happiness is an inside job. It is a conscious choice and lasting happiness emanates from within and is not affected by external circumstances. We all have it within us to find that hope in the midst of despair.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light” – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Treating everyone with kindness is important, as Sirius Black points out.
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
On making the right decisions:
- When we are faced with problems, it’s only too easy to take the easy way out but this may not always be the right choice.
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
On being sensitive:
Empathize with others and put yourself in their shoes to appreciate their point of view.
“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
On accepting and understanding ourselves:
We have all experience positive and negative thoughts, emotions, and sensations. But we have a choice not to be swayed by them, through making independent decisions on how to act appropriately.
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
On being human and recognizing the power of pain:
If we didn’t have problems, we wouldn’t appreciate the good things in life. Pain, loss, and failure is inevitable in life and brings perspective, clarity and is a catalyst for positive change, should you allow it to be.
“Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human … the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength. ” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Everything will work out eventually and for the best, even if it’s not in the way we expected it.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
On the fear of death:
It is the lack of knowledge and experience that makes us fear death and darkness, just like a child may fear the shadows but as she grows and understands more, she becomes fearless.
“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more. ” – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
On reality and the mind:
Reality is but an illusion. Everything we experience in the world is a reflection of our mind. So our perception is colored by our internal makeup which is why different people see the same things, differently. This is J.K. Rowling’s favorite quote from the series.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
On using words wisely:
Words can hurt or heal so choose yours carefully. Think before you speak.
“Words are in my not-so-humble opinion, the most inexhaustible form of magic we have, capable both of inflicting injury and remedying it.” ―
True love is unconditional and eternal.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.” ―
The End of an Epic!
This quote is not from the series and was spoken by JK Rowling at the premiere of the last film. It was the perfect way to bid a fond farewell to Potter fans who mourned the end of their childhood with the end of the series; as many of us grew up with this books and movies. However, they will stay with us forever.
“No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” ― J.K. Rowling
So, what is your favorite Harry Potter quote?
Featured photo credit: The Trio in The Burrow via vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
- Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
- Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
- Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
- How did I do?
- Are there any areas for improvement?
- Did I sound or look stressed?
- Did I stumble on my words? Why?
- Was I saying “um” too often?
- How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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