My hopes and fears

Some of you may know that I’ve recently posted this on Facebook:


I was astonished by the enormous support I instantly got from my PLN and friends from all around the world.

Strangely enough, it was not long ago (precisely October 28) when I wrote about the reasons behind my refusal to become a conference presenter. In today’s post, I’d like to share some of my fears and hopes I have now that I’ve finally accepted the offer. So here goes.

What if …

my topic is not interesting enough to attract an audience? I’ve been attending local conferences for some time now and I know that their regular attendees have already heard and seen loads of interesting stuff. Also, the teachers come on a Saturday, many of them from far away places, to be inspired. This obviously makes me feel a lot of responsibility.

I don’t appear interesting enough to attract an audience? Well, I may be the same old face on social media but that doesn’t mean that local folks know my name. So while some of my PLN would definitely turn up (out of sheer curiosity or to support a newbie presenter), the people who attend this conference may not feel like wasting their precious time listening to some secondary school teacher slash blogger.

things go wrong? I’ve been a teacher for more than two decades so I know all too well that there are lessons which go wrong for no specific reason. It just happens and it always fills me with bitter disappointment. Surprisingly, this sometimes happens when I ovedo it or when I overprepare. By the way, as this is my first workshop, I’m definitely planning to go low-tech. And I think I’ll actually go very ‘light’ in all respects.

my timing is all wrong? The workshops last for an hour. This may turn out totally unimportant, but over time, my brain has adjusted to slightly shorter units – of 45 minutes. Also, as I have no idea whatsoever how many people will finally turn up for my workshop (the attendees don’t register for the individual workshops in advance, which, by the way, I always considered an advantage), I can’t tailor make the content to a specific number of attendees. This leaves me with a number of unknown variables, such as the number of photocopies, the number of chairs, the shape of the seating arrangement and the shape of the activities themselves (pairs, groups, mingling, etc.). This may easily disconcert me and eventually add more pressure or even cause some confusion during the workshop.

I make mistakes? I know this sounds almost ridiculous, but yes, this is also one of my concerns. The sky won’t fall in if you make a mistake in a regular class (your mischievous students will let you know instantly anyway), but it must be terribly embarrassing when it happens to a conference presenter (cause conference presenters are supposed to be flawless, right? 😀 ).

Anyway, I’m an optimist and I think I can make it because

  • I have plenty of experience with classroom management and teaching in general so I can improvise and multitask.
  • Conference audiences are usually very enthusiastic, compassionate and understanding. (I’m convinced that teenagers, for example, are much more challenging).
  • I know the place very well and I know how things work there – at least from the outside.
  • There will be lots of familiar faces, which is one of the highlights for me.

What do you think? Are my concerns justified? Did you feel the same before your first workshop/webinar? Thanks for reading and all the support.


About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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6 Responses to My hopes and fears

  1. Sandy Millin says:

    Hi Hana,
    I’m pretty sure those concerns are fairly standard. Here are my replies:
    – not interesting enough: I only got 3 people at my last conference talk. However, they’d chosen to come, and it still went really well. We just sat down in a circle instead of me presenting. Even if only one person comes, they’ve chosen to be there.
    – don’t appear interesting enough: this all comes down to the topic. Present something you’d like to see yourself, and people will come. Following ‘names’ can sometimes result in disappointment, and it’s always better to go for topics that interest you if you’re an attendee IMO.
    – things go wrong: as you say, the sky won’t fall in, and you’ll learn from it and do it differently the next time.
    – timing: again, you’ll learn from it. It’s unlikely that you’ll be under from my experience – it’s almost always the other way round. If you’re that much under, make the last bit a swapshop where people work in small groups sharing similar ideas. If there are only a couple of people, have a chat. Or get them to think about which ideas they want to use in their classroom. Think about what you can afford to drop if you’re running behind, the same as you would in a lesson.
    – mistakes: have you ever heard a conference presenter make a mistake? What was your reaction? Did it make you instantly dismiss their ideas? You’re a human 🙂
    I’m so looking forward to being there to see you do this presentation, and I’m happy to run through anything you like beforehand if we can manage it. You’ll be great!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Thanks for all the practical advice and support, Sandy. I’lI keep that in mind. Anyway, I hope we’lI be on at different times because I would definitely like to see you. Cheers!


  2. Dave Cleary says:

    As the, ahem, initiator I feel maybe I should share something that happened to me the first time I presented at a conference. I had a room of about 30-35 teachers and things had gone pretty well. Timing started off ok, went a bit to quick in the middle so I had to stretch an activity out, overdid it and ended up rushing through the last one a little bit. So when it came to the end I wanted to say thank you and encourage them teachers to go try some of the activities and adapt them for themselves, so I said, “These activities have been begged, borrowed and stealed, you can do the same”.
    One person noticed, and nobody cared 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Haha. Well, as you are a native speaker, I would probably think…hmmm…this must be some special jargon 😉 Thanks for sharing this, David.


  3. ven_vve says:

    Hi Hana,
    You’ll do great! Just think of how many mediocre talks/workshops you’ve sat through (you must have done – haven’t we all?), and people don’t sit around years later saying, “Well, that was a terrible talk – totally ruined my weekend,” do they? And yours isn’t going to be mediocre.
    About the unknown variables – you say you know the place, so at least a couple of days before the event you’ll know which room you’re in, as well as the seating arrangement. Make as many copies as there are seats (just in case), and if more people show up they’ll share. You can always email handouts later if people still want them.
    Re making mistakes – what kind of mistakes are you worried about? Skipping a slide because you’re nervous or something language related? I know some Croatian teachers – usually not newbies – adopt this attitude of “I’ve seen this before, and did she just say ‘discuss about’?!? Who’s letting _her_ teach English?” I don’t think there’s much you can do about these people and it’s best not to worry about their petty concerns. I’m sure you’ll have a supportive and appreciative audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Giulia says:

    You’ll do great Hana, I’m sure! I wish I could come to your workshop… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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