AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / March/April 2020 / Volume 24, Number 4

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

Issue link: http://epubs.aallnet.org/i/1212687

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50 AALL SPECTRUM | WWW.AALLNET.ORG REFERENCE DESK BY DOLLY M. KNIGHT, MARIBEL NASH & SCOTT VANDERLIN BUSINESS EDGE Tackling Public Speaking Due to recent personnel changes in my library, I will soon be required to teach a number of research classes. I have always avoided teaching because of a long-standing fear of public speaking. What resources or techniques would you recommend to help ease my fears? Q Scott: The statistics showing that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of actually dying have been recited to the point of being cliché. Couple that with a profession that is, shall we say, not full of extroverts, and I can confidently say that you are not alone in your discomfort with the idea of teaching. Commiseration will do little to help you in the classroom, however, so here are some thoughts on helping to calm your nerves and focus your energy in a more positive way. First and foremost, maybe don't picture all of your students in their underwear. It's 2020, not 1987, and you're better than that. Instead, focus your thoughts on how you are helping your audi- ence. Stop thinking about yourself (being judged, watched, failing, etc.), and remember why you are there in the first place. You have expertise in a specialized skill (legal research) that is vital to the practice of law. By identifying the needs of your audience, you remind yourself that the presen- tation is not about you—it is about helping your audience. The more you can pull your thoughts outside of your own head and relocate them firmly in the audience, the better. Next, have a good, structured plan going into each presentation. Know what you are going to be covering in each session by creating a lesson plan or outline and then rehearsing extensively. Some individuals are wonderful at extempora- neously speaking on topics that they are familiar, or even unfamiliar, with. For the rest of us, the best way to deal with the fear of the unknown is to simply remove as much "unknown" from the equation as possible beforehand.

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