How to feel confident in seminars in first year

When you sit down in your first seminar, it’ll feel a little odd. It’s not quite a normal class, it’s more independently led, and you’re expected to share your ideas… without putting your hand up or asking your teacher. It can be hard to feel uber confident in seminars when you’re getting used to University life and higher education academia, but follow our fool proof steps to confidence success and you’ll be acing those seminars in no time!

When you sit down in your first seminar, it’ll feel a little odd. It’s not quite a normal class, it’s more independently led, and you’re expected to share your ideas… without putting your hand up or asking your teacher. It can be hard to feel uber confident in seminars when you’re getting used to University life and higher education academia, but follow our fool proof steps to confidence success and you’ll be acing those seminars in no time:

Make sure you turn up in good time 

There’s nothing worse than running to campus, walking into a busy lecture or seminar room and being stared at by the entirety of your course. Confidence points: zero. Make sure you’re always outside the seminar room a few minutes early, so you can pick a seat next to your pals, you’re not a sweaty I’ve-just-ran-from-halls mess and you’re prepared.

Preparation works in your favour 

The more prepared you are for your seminar, the less you’ll hate being called on to speak up. If you feel comfortable in your understanding of the subject, it’ll show in how you carry yourself, and you’ll be able to trust that even if you hate having to talk, you’ll say all the right things. It’ll make the process a little easier.

Be the first to speak up 

This sounds ludicrous, we get it, but trust us. If you get your talking out the way, you can relax for the rest of the seminar, and you might find you’re comfortable with speaking later on if you’ve pushed yourself from the beginning. It also means you don’t spend half the seminar umming and ahhing about when to make your really great point, just for Toby down the table to pipe up and say it before you. Trust your instinct, and just go for it!

Make pals with your seminar group 

You’ll find it much easier speaking up in a room of friends, than in a room full of strangers. Take note of who’s in your seminar group, add them all on social media and get used to their presence. That means when you do speak, it’ll be like having a debate with pals, and you’ll feel much more confident about it.

Know what you don't know - and understand that that's okay 

You’re not supposed to come into a seminar with all the answers. A seminar is a place for discussion, a space to bounce ideas off one another, and a chance to explore the topic you’re learning about. Quite often at University-level, it’s less about right and wrong and more that all ideas are accepted if you can back up your opinions! So, don’t be shy if you’re not sure – listen to the conversation, join in and let the knowledge flow.

Get to know what makes your seminar leader tick 

Maybe your seminar leader is one of those that likes to foster an awkward silence until someone feels like they have to speak up. Instead of being intimidated by that, realise this is a good method to get a class to participate, and roll with their methods of teaching. It’s less about being instructed on what to do, and more about letting the ideas come to you. If you know how your seminar leader likes to run sessions, you’ll feel much more comfortable being in them.

Put yourself out of your comfort zone once a week 

If you do struggle with speaking up and sharing your ideas, as lots of us do, try and put yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while. Once you do this, and you speak up when you weren’t sure if you wanted to, you’ll find it so much easier to speak up again!

Stick to a notebook - maybe leave your laptop at home

If you’re hiding behind your laptop, there are so many opportunities to accidentally disengage with the seminar if you’re nervous, such as surfing the internet or checking social media notifications. However, if you’ve just got yourself, a pen and a notebook, you can only focus on the task at hand, and you’ll find yourself engaging naturally with the seminar more.

Dress in what makes you feel 'you' 

The power of clothes is real, people. Dress in what makes you feel comfortable and your best self, and then that’ll translate in how you carry yourself in the seminar. Simples.

Fake it 'til you make it 

It’s not easy to get used to the seminar life. Not many of us are gifted with the confident ease of feeling comfortable to speak up every session. It takes work, but keep trying, and you’ll be loving them before you know it.

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