It must really stink to know exactly what you want to do in life, but be held back by some extraneous detail that isn’t substantively related to the job, really.
Like Amanda, who wants to teach, but isn’t sure about the ability to stand in front of people and talk.
I am a sophomore in college and this is my last chance to change my major.
The last chance to change your major and graduate on time, you mean. 🙂
I’ve changed it so much already because my interests seem to come and go.
No worries, that’s about normal. For those of you reading at home, my advice is simply not to declare one until you’re forced to do so.
Even if you think you know what you want to do, you can always take the right classes to fulfill the major that you THINK you’ll be choosing, while avoiding the paperwork and heart-wrenching divorce from a crestfallen academic advisor lest you decide to abandon it later. 🙂
I’m pretty sure that teaching high school history is what I want to do with my life.
That’s a fine profession. Good choice.
However I’m scared to death of talking in front of people and I am so easy going and introverted I am afraid I won’t be able to have control over my class. How do I overcome this fear of mine?
That’s my advice on the talking-in-front-of-people issue, anyway. I’ll leave the “how to control a high school classroom” question to others in the comments section — teachers, frequent presenters, maybe Edward James Olmos, etc.
But public speaking is something most people can get used to. In fact, fear of public speaking is one of the most common adult fears. Thousands upon thousands of really good public speakers used to be just like you — terrified of speaking in front of crowds. Even small crowds, like classrooms.
I didn’t like speaking at all when I first started my search engine advertising agency. For me, as for most people, it was a confidence issue. I used to envision people sitting in the audience listening to me and thinking I was full of shit, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, etc. I envisioned the audience being full of heckler types.
I have absolutely no idea why I envisioned this, because that’s never been the reality. Over time, I realized that most people listening to me speak were either a) interested in hearing what I had to say, or b) uninterested in what I had to say and much more interested in reading, texting, sleeping, or just staring off into space.
Those people are just fine with me, actually. My feelings aren’t the least bit hurt by the existence of people who don’t think I’m the absolute most interesting thing going on in the room at this very moment. I’ve sat through dozens of speakers, zoned out and texting and emailing people instead.
As long as those people don’t disrupt me, then hey, no harm no foul in my book.
Now, you’ll be teaching high school kids, so you’re likely to have more heckler types and LOTS more who simply don’t want to be there, and any advice I give you about how to control high school hecklers would probably be inappropriate (Taser anyone?). So I’ll let the more civilized masses help you there.
Here are a few generic suggestions, though, for getting more comfortable speaking in front of groups:
a) There’s a group called Toastmasters that’s dedicated solely to helping people improve their public speaking. Join your local group — it’ll make you a comfortable public speaker in a hurry.
b) Practice speaking in front of a group of your friends. Even a handful of them for 15 minutes or so is plenty of time to start getting your feet wet and give you some familiarity with the process of getting up in front of people and talking. Plus, they won’t throw things at you if you suck initially.
c) Practice on young kids. They’re good in a couple of ways. By and large, they’re much more fascinated with you (briefly, anyway) than adults and will probably listen starstruck for a while. Also, they’re much less conspicuous when they’re bored or uninterested, so you’ll get used to moving on and pushing forward when part of your audience is clearly not into you. And, perhaps in this case, begins rolling around on the floor, punching their neighbor or screaming about how “THIS IS BOOOOOORIIIIIIIING.”
Once you’ve sat through that, watching bored adults text and email is no big thing.
— How about you guys? Any public speaking tips or general words of encouragement for Amanda? Let us know in the comments below!