Tips to Boost Your Confidence and Release your Inner Extrovert to Speak Up in Class

Tips to Boost Your Confidence and Release your Inner Extrovert to Speak Up in ClassThis week we welcome back Christen Morgan to discuss some ideas for speaking up more in class – even if you’re a natural introvert!

There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the utmost fears that wrangles many law students is the fear of speaking up in class. If you’re an extrovert, this task may be a no brainer for you, but if you’re an introvert, the mere thought of engaging in the Socratic method may give you literal nightmares. Speaking from experience, I can tell you firsthand that being an introvert added an entire layer of stress to my first year of law school.

Of course all the horror stories I heard beforehand of being called on and ridiculed in front of hundreds of students did not make my experience any easier. These stories created somewhat of an expectation in my head and, as a result, increased my insecurities and initially shattered the confidence I needed to speak up amongst my peers. Truthfully, some of these fears lingered throughout my law school experience, but, with time, many of these fears dwindled and my confidence peered through when I learned a little secret. When you get called on in class, no one else is really listening to your response or truthfully invested in what you’re saying with the exception of the professor of course. When you get called on, everyone is too busy focusing on their inner victory/relief of not being the cold call victim, therefore, their focus is not on the words coming out of your mouth. Now whether this was actually true, I didn’t really care, but it was what I chose to believe, and it definitely boosted my confidence.

I do recognize that the possibility that no one else is listening may not be a sufficient boost to release your inner Socratic extrovert, however, preparation and a little strategizing here and there can undoubtedly make it a lot easier to speak up.

So what do I mean by preparation?

Reading and Internalizing the Material

One sure way to build your confidence is to actually know what you’re talking about. Therefore, the first step in confidence building is to actually read the material you’re assigned. As a 1L, I do recognize that reading all your cases takes a long time. In fact, I recall it taking me 4 hours just to complete a Torts reading assignment. However, despite how long it takes, reading is necessary. In fact, if you truly want to build your knowledge, reading every aspect of the case is important. Yes, that means the footnotes, the dissent and the concurrence.

Reading, however, is just the first step to confidence building – actually internalizing the material is the key ingredient you need to speak up in class. Internalizing means that you understand the material enough to speak about it without giving it much thought. I am aware that internalizing any sort of legal material is in fact a difficult hurdle. However, reviewing legitimate case summaries and preparing your own case briefs may do wonders in helping you to internalize.

Strategizing

Once you’ve mastered the preparation aspect, it may take a bit of strategy to help to calm your nerves. My favorite strategy is to simply volunteer before getting called on. If you know that you’re on the chopping block for a cold call, the worst part is waiting around for it to happen. I recall being unable to focus on anything throughout the lecture because of this fear. But, one way to take control of the cold call is to actually volunteer early on to discuss an aspect of the topic that you’re well versed in. If the professor asks a general question without directing it to anyone, and you know the answer, jump in and answer it. Volunteering early on means that you get to discuss something that you actually know about, and it also lessens the likelihood that the professor will call on you again.

Another great strategy is to have an excellent summary of the case in front of you. Regardless of how prepared you are to discuss a particular topic, we are all victims to being at a loss for words. I can’t count the number of times I was armed with preparation and lost every single thought in my mind the second my name was called. Having a case brief in front of me allowed me to still discuss the case because I had all the important factors written out in front of me. Now, it’s important to realize that this case brief will only be helpful if it is easy to maneuver during a cold call. We all know how difficult it is to even read something when our nerves are all awry. Therefore, your case brief should be very short with important points highlighted and bolded, so, if you’re at a loss for words, you can simply refer to what’s in front of you.

I hope these tips make it easier for you to unleash your inner extrovert that is just dying to speak up!


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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