Breaking the fear of speaking in public
As I walked to the Spotify offices in Chamberi to give a simple class, I felt like I was going to my first day of school again. I was shaky, nervous, fidgeting with my bag and scared – I even had a notebook in hand that all of a sudden felt too heavy to hold. There is absolutely no logical explanation for this – teaching is nothing new to me, and after almost 7 years I should have the confidence to do it anywhere, anytime, anyhow.
But I just don’t.
My fear has nothing to do with my ability; I get rave reviews all the time. No, instead it’s something deeper, something buried inside me, something leftover, perhaps, from my childhood as a refugee, an immigrant, a non-native.
Halfway through my sprint to their offices (I am, after all, from New York City and we have no idea how to walk like normal people), I realized I am going there to show our methodology in action – our methodology which is founded in the idea that breaking the fear of speaking is the key to success in developing language skills.
I wholeheartedly believe in this method, but applying your believes to yourself and your life is sometimes the most difficult part of having a belief.
So I stopped.
I sat down on a bench.
And then I thought, “If I were my own teacher, what would I say to myself?” And that was my “AHA!” moment.
If I were my teacher, I would tell myself the following:
Believe in your ability. You’ve prepared well, you have the paper in front of you. You can do this, and you’ll do it well. Practice it. Practice it now, in your head. Practice it again. Now practice it out loud. Put the paper down and try it from memory. Breathe in, breathe out. You can do this, you’ve done it before. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Think of what you have in your favor: they are here to learn, in this one thing you know more than they do, they’re friendly and funky and young just like you. You can do this, you will do this, you will do this well.
By the time I got to their offices, I was able to walk in without shaking. I was shown to the meeting room where I had 15 minutes more to prepare (I always arrive 15 minutes early, possibly due to the NYC style walking). I stayed standing, I walked around the room. There was no board and my chair didn’t fit under the table – two things I wasn’t expecting, but that was ok. I was early, I had time to adjust. I regulated my breathing more, and I practiced, practiced, practiced.
By the time the class started, I was already in the zone. My fear was gone, I was relaxed. In my head, I’d done this class 10 time already. I was prepared.
It was no longer something new, something to fear.
I had just Kleinsoned myself.