Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why You Should Read Harry Potter - A ToastMasters Project 4 Speech

I completed my ToastMasters P4 speech this week. This was a memorable speech for me.

The objective of P4 is - "How to say it", and I tried very hard to come up with a good speech satisfying this topic. I even tried converting my experience of cooking pasta into a speech however, the speech turned out as dreadful as the experience itself. In the end I decided to give a speech on a topic which is very close to my heart and which I have already addressed in the blog before.

Here is the video and the speech. Please feel free to give me any feedback.

Why You Should Read Harry Potter
In the summer of 2006, I made one of the best and the worst decisions of my life. It was that fateful time when I decided to finally give in and read Harry Potter.

Good AfterNoon Fellow ToastMasters and guests.

Why worst you ask? My relationship with Harry Potter is like an addiction. I suffer from a self proclaimed Obsessive Compulsive Reading Disorder. I invariably end up reading any one of the Harry Potter books every other month. When I read these books I literally live in that magical world. I remember reading the first 6 Harry Potter books over a span of a week and being so lost in Harry’s magical world for a long time after that; that I kept on blurting the spells from those books subconsciously. I vividly remember this one instance. I was on my bike, speeding down a slope and was actually about to crash into a car parked there. Instead of applying breaks I kept on repeating “Impedimenta”, the spell to slow down moving objects. The crash still happened though, one more realization of damned reality. Not only this, I kept trying to scare away lizards with – “sssaayahaa sssiheth”. Never mind that lizards weren’t snakes but their being reptiles, was reason enough for me to practice my “Parseltongue”- that’s snake language on them.

Yes, you are allowed to laugh/ mock/ ridicule me all you want, but for me it really is one of the best books I’ve read.

What is it about these books that is so enticing? Today I am here to answer that. I hope after listening to me some of you decide to try these books. Now I sound like a salesman.

Aside from all the magic and the promise of the uncharted, unknown and unforeseen, there are three main lessons I learnt out of Harry Potter books.

Open Mindedness – This may sound ironical but once upon a time I was among those people who used to hate all fantasy books treating them as meant for children. But Harry Potter changed that. Not only did these books force me to adopt an open mind and but also to not reject anything as downright ridiculous. I noticed a very visible change in myself. I became more accepting of other people’s views.

Team Work – The protagonist of these books, Harry Potter, is an ordinary wizard. There is nothing exceptional about him at the outset, but even then he manages to courageously confront and conquer all the hardships presented before him. Harry manages to accomplish what he does because at each and every step he has the support of his friends and loved ones. They tackle each problem as a team making the best use of each other’s strengths and compensating for each other’s weaknesses on the way.

Take Action -It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” The books may on the surface be about the more generic idea of good vs. evil and an orphan boy’s taking up the mantle against evil. However it is the importance of these words that the author J.K. Rowling chooses to emphasize through the actions of her protagonists and host of other characters that make the books what they are. I for one can vouch for this. I had been contemplating joining Orators ToastMasters club since early 2011 but one fine day I decided to join it and today I am standing infront of you. You can see for yourself the change in me because I chose to act.

Magic, kudos to J.K. Rowling for plucking at that chord in all our hearts, for deep within don’t we all want to believe that it really does exist? Haven’t we at some point or other in our lives wished for a miracle or a magical solution for all our problems? But Harry Potter books are much more than just magic. Not only does J.K. Rowling force us to abandon our predefined notions of what is acceptable but she also makes her characters impress upon us the importance of teamwork and converting our thoughts into actions.

So take a chance and read Harry Potter. Who knows maybe someday you may be giving the exact same speech as me.

P.S. - This was the first time I gave a speech in another ToastMasters club. I give my sincerest thanks to the HoneyWell ToastMasters club, for hosting me and making the environment very comfortable for me. It did not occur to me for one moment that I was giving a speech in another club.
My evaluator, Mr. Murajith Menon helped me a great deal his insightful evaluation. 

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