I love Harry Potter.
There, I said it.
Yes, I am above the age of 13 and I love all things Harry Potter—the books, the movies, the theme park. Several years ago I went with my family to Florida and was absolutely captivated wandering through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. I’m not ashamed to admit that even I bought a wand (and, to be fair, I bought one for my niece and nephew as well).
Over the years, Harry Potter has captured the imaginations of millions of people. I often wonder how someone like me—who is far from the target demographic—has managed to stay engaged for so long. I realize I’m not alone here; that many of you reading this right now are nodding your head saying, “yes, me too!”
For me, though, there is something intriguing beyond the fantastical journeys of Harry and his classmates.
I truly love how these young wizards use words, inflection, and tone, to cast charms and spells that make the world do crazy things.
If you’re a fan like me (come on, you can admit it too) and have read all the books and watched all the movies, you understand that as the story unfolds, the level of complexity in casting a spell requires concentration and focus. From “expelliarmus” (a clever spell to disarm your enemy) to “Wingardium Leviosa” (to levitate an object), how you swish the wand or pronounce the word can have a huge impact on a wizard’s success.
One of my favorite and most clever spells is when Harry Potter uses ash in a fireplace to transport himself to Diagon Alley. With the proper pronunciation, pause and cadence, Harry and his friends can be magically transported to their intended destination. And, for those of you that might not be as familiar with Harry Potter, let me just say, he doesn’t make it to the quaint shopping district with his friends. He mispronounces the spell, instead saying “Diagonally” and ends up in a dodgy alley full of unsavory wizards and the like, which is no place for a proper wizard like Harry Potter.
By now you might be wondering what all of this has to do with communication skills? Well, a lot, actually. Just as the young wizards spend hours practicing how to cast a spell or incantation, we too must practice how we speak to ensure our message is being effectively conveyed. Just as a wizard will practice swishing their wand, a speaker must practice managing their gestures to help express their message.
In order to become a masterful wizard, Harry needed to make mistakes and try again. His repetitive behavior helped him build his craft and the same kind of repetitive behavior is what allows you to unconsciously cast your spell on your audience. Over time, you build muscle memory and the ability to properly emphasize your words, project your voice, use meaningful gestures, and make engaging eye contact become more automatic. Some think this type of behavior may come across as mechanical but, instead, it is about being intentional.
For Harry and his friends, the lessons they endured and the mistakes they made helped them to learn and grow as wizards. For you, falling down and trying again is what makes delivering a presentation as powerful as casting a spell.
Presentr is a technology tool that helps anyone practice and get feedback on their presentation skills to help them gain confidence and improve. The Presentr team includes communication skills experts who have been training and coaching Fortune 500 professionals for decades. Nothing in this article is meant to endorse any political parties.