The ABC of ELT

My Fears Surrounding My IATEFL Poland 2017 Talk

Sunlight bike riding along a path

Before I posted my last post regarding my IATEFL Poland 2017 talk, I wasn’t sure if I was going to mention what the topic was. That’s because I was a bit worried about what people might think about the topic of the talk. The truth is, that is not the only thing that I’m worried about when it comes to this talk, and so I’m sharing some of my fears and why they aren’t real problems to aid myself.

Isn’t this all obvious

One of my biggest fears with this talk is that someone will stand up and say “well duh.” Sketchnoting isn’t something that I’ve seen too much on within the ELT world (other than a couple of “hey, let’s do this in conferences”). I believe it is good to apply ideas from outside the ELT world, to our context. As such, I think sketchnoting offers some interesting insights and lessons and it can be expanded upon…but at the same time, It might all seems obvious to people who do these ideas and activities already. Then again maybe I’m too close to the topic and know it too well so it all seems obvious to me.

It’s just a buzzword

There are a lot of buzzwords in Education. While I think buzzwords are generally just marketing tools, having a new word for something does help understand something differently. As such, using a new buzzword might help people view things differently. Likewise, if you think of using a buzzword, there’s always a risk that someone can dismiss it as not being anything new nor offering anything new.

It isn’t new

I think the best counter to this is “why does everything have to be new?” Teacher’s (and companies selling stuff to teachers) love new things (I love new fancy tech, it’s a personal weakness) but this appeals to me, so hopefully people can look beyond that.

Someone does a similar talk a day before

I’ve looked through the draft programme now and It appears that several other presenters might be doing something in a similar area. I actually had this last year where Jon Hird gave a talk on the very same subject as me! We covered different group and ours were very different so that wasn’t a problem. This time I don’t think I can see all the other talks that seem similar so maybe someone will cover the same ground I do…or not. I don’t know and their talks conflict with several other talks that I intend to go to…so this time I might not know if people are reaping the same things.

I don’t have enough material to last an hour

As it’s a new talk, I don’t know how well the material will pan out. Will these activities really last an hour, will I get stressed and speak too quickly (a common public speaking mistake), will people have any questions! I don’t know yet. I’m trying some things (like video recording myself) in order to check my timings, but it could all go differently on the day.

I overrun

On the other hand, I might overrun and not get into the main bulk of what I want to cover. I think this might be the better way to go as I could cut parts out as the time goes on. I guess that I’d better consider what could be dropped from the talk if I have to drop some activities or ideas. Having run through the timings before hand will help me know if I am running behind or ahead.

There isn’t enough audience participation (it’s a workshop)

Have you ever been at one of those events where the audience just isn’t into it. I have, and it’s painful. It’s not always the presenters fault (though sometimes it is) as sometimes there are some other factors involved (like hangovers). With a workshop I’m planning some active participation but they just might not want to take part.

No one turns up

I’m on the last day at one of the last slots. I went to IATEFL last year and it was silent on the last day. Maybe the same thing will happen this year and no one will turn up. I’d feel pretty sad if that happens, but at the same time I’ve learnt a lot from preparing for this talk and enjoyed developing it. Plus I might be able to use it at a different conference or something else.

The room is crammed full

Or maybe it will be rammed pack, my activities require a table or desk, so what if people can’t get to one. I imagine it could feel pretty intimidating if this happens as well.

To be honest, this is the sort of “problem which isn’t really a problem” apart from my stupid mind feeling intimidated. I guess the usually public speaking advice might help…picture everyone naked etc etc.

Yes, I’m over thinking these things

Fear isn’t rational at all, and these one’s aren’t. I’m trying to do certain things to avoid the worst case scenarios and even if they do happen, I’ll still live through it and learn! So I guess I’d better just enjoy the conference.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

6 Replies

  1. Hi Chris,

    Break a leg! I gave my first workshop earlier this year and it went OK though I was pooing my pants till moments before.

    Hope it goes well!


    1. Thanks Marc, not long to go now…oh yeah I need to update some slides :S

  2. This was a great read! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only person who gets irrationally and uncontrollably nervous before presentations. Best of luck with yours – it sounds like you’ve planned for every eventuality! 🙂

    1. I guess we’ll see! I’m sure there are some things I can predict (start of world war 3?) but I don’t think there is anything more I could do to prep. Thanks for the good luck wishes

  3. Good luck Chris (or hope it goes well – you might have done the talk already!)
    The feeling that everyone already knows what you’re going to say or that everyone’s talking about the same thing are common ones, but remember that people have chosen to come to your talk, which means that they’re interested in it. Sure, they might know 95% of what you’re saying, but even if they do (and they probably won’t), there’ll always be that one thing that only you could tell them. Sometimes we also all need reminders of things we ‘know’, but have forgotten.
    I’m sure you’ll be fine!

    1. Thanks Sandy. That’s a really good point. Sometimes I choose talks on topics I think i know really well and find value in revisiting and revising them or come across one idea which is really valuable. It’s only an hour to go and I feel pretty well prepared now 🙂

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