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No judgement please. Public speaking anxiety

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Cat-lady, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Cat-lady

    Cat-lady New commenter

    So i really want to teach. Ive wanted to for years and i'm about to undertake some voluntary work within a school to make sure its what i want to do before i apply.
    Anyway, i get massive anxiety about public speaking a huge contradiction i know!
    So has anyone managed to teach with a fear of public speaking? How did you get over this anxiety? I'm thinking of maybe getting some cbt sessions to try and overcome this. I just don't want to let this stand in my way
  2. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    Throughout my childhood and student life (not ITT) I had a real fear of having to talk to groups. Somehow I got through my PGCE (was never really at ease though) but once I had my own class I found speaking to them became absolutely fine. Addressing the whole school in assembly became the next challenge. Again, I did it but probably never in the relaxed way some people seem to be able to do.
    I now do presentations - some better than others but I regularly get asked back so they can't be too awful.
    I think there's something about building up the hours that serves to desensitise. In ITT you start with groups so that helps. Some more formulaic practices such as taking the class register might also help - so you and the pupils get used to hearing your voice aloud.
  3. MissCleo

    MissCleo New commenter

    I was always anxious about speaking in front of groups of people too! I have found that when I speak in front of children, it is different and I don't feel this anxiety in my everyday life as a teacher. It was different when I was asked to lead professional development for staff in my school, that was still terrifying to me! I also found my teacher training to be challenging, as the course required a lot of interactions and presentations in front of the other students.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It’s the most common fear, and when any of us have to speak to adults it comes back big time. The number of COD sessions I’ve seen with people saying “I’m not an expert in this field so please just take what’s useful to you” - meaning ‘I’m terrified you’ll all judge me as really big headed. Or laugh at what I say because it’s so trite. Or just laugh.”

    You may find that during your training, it’s very frighting. You may have to present in front of your fellow students and that’s nerve racking.

    With children it’s just different. You’ll probably be nervous at first but not for very long. And after you’ve done it for a few weeks you won’t notice. In this job, the only times I find public speaking makes me uncomfortable is when I have to do an assembly.

    Basically - don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine!
    agathamorse and blueskydreaming like this.
  5. eelnais

    eelnais New commenter

    I have public speaking anxiety to the point where I have medication.
    I did Teach First so I skipped the PGCE route and one of the main purposes was to avoid the horror of having to present to other students/discuss ideas and the like!

    Stepping in front of the kids the first time was so terrifying - but with kids you have the control, you pause when you want, you walk around, you get them to read stuff out. Now I have zero fear with that.

    Still an issue with adults (I say issue, the mere thought is enough to trigger me into a panic attack) - I am currently reading Gary Genard's Fearless Speaking to try to get over this and also pair with Propranolol.

    I've never met anyone with public speaking fear as bad as mine - so I'm sure you'll be better! :p Don't let it put you off; follow your dream.
  6. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    I've not got a fear of public speaking but throughout my school years was fearful of speaking in the classroom.

    As we get older we do gain confidence in ourselves - which is really what it is all about - but what did it for me was looking at those i was needing to address, undergraduates in my case and later primary school pupils, knowing that I needed to 'man up', as they needed my advice as I was the one with most experience. I ended up being captains of sporting teams and a Chairman of a small housing association.

    I still have moments when i feel uncomfortable when i lead staff training - I guess we don't always like to reveal our knowledge to our peers for fear of appearing stupid - but in general if i'm well prepped and believe in what I'm saying, I've learned to handle most situations, especially as you experience more situations. My biggest fear was always being asked to be a best man at a wedding reception, but fortunately i've avoided that need to be funny.
  7. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Really, quite a number of our teachers graduate still with a fear of public speaking. And therein you have to see what the others are saying.

    Teaching is not public speaking.

    Public speaking is articulating to a group of people with whom you don’t have a strong relationship forged with you at the front directing.

    Teaching, is you, once again, talking to the same group of people, for the zillionth time, with whom you have a strong relationship.

    I do sessions on this with the trainees. One strategy is to relabel the adrenalin and cortisol from public speaking as exciting and addictive in the same way one drives fast or climbs rock. Then you start by taking small amounts of the drug to desensitise yourself (through standing up in front of peers in sessions). But you also tell yourself you quite like the experience in the same way you once told yourself to like vegetables or drink tea without sugar. You have to get into a reflective cycle and quite rapidly the amounts of adrenalin etc. decrease.

    I never forget one of the trainees, a hardened English trainee, had to speak to the whole cohort as their rep and he came to the front, looked up at the giant lecture theatre full of people turned to me and said, jesus, I never really realised how intimidating this is! And he was a bag of nerves despite being one of your most self confident assured speakers you could meet. It’s a question of scale and all of us once were a bag of nerves and all of us got desensitised to it.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. moontitan

    moontitan New commenter

    I had this fear throughout my childhood and I still cannot do speeches infront of adults. With children I am good.
    I had the same thoughts as you about teaching. Whilst doing my PGCE I explained this to a teacher in a placement school, he was very good. He asked me to just read out names for the register. He did everything else, that was my only task, to read out names. Perhaps start with something similar to this?
    You will find teaching children is very different to public speaking, I learned that very quickly!
  9. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    Add me to the list - an NQT who has always been painfully shy and self-conscious my entire life. It can be done. I still get very very nervous before teaching, but the more you do it the less sensitive you get. Just push yourself through, taking baby steps, knowing you'll get more confident as time goes on. :)
  10. Easyasabc

    Easyasabc Occasional commenter

    Yes. Have a script so you have what you want to say infront of you. In time you will know it well.

    Good luck..
  11. xmascracker

    xmascracker New commenter

    There's some really great advice above, what worked for me was slowly increasing my exposure to it either through speaking in front of smaller crowds or for smaller periods of time and then working my way up. Now it is still a bit nervy but nowhere near as bad as it once was! Gd luck!

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