Sunday, August 29, 2010


So nearly all of the law school blogs I've been reading have a post about cold-calling. So why not me?

I'm very okay with being called on. I go to class prepared as hell and want to be called on. I have no issue with speaking in public and knowing I'm prepared as hell gives me even more confidence.

But, I'm 36 years old and faced my public speaking demons way back in high school and emerged victorious. My high school was an all girls Presbyterian high school in Trinidad, one of the best. While it had long since given up Home Economics and how to lay a table, it held on to 2 important things a young lady should know how to do: properly lift a chair and speak in public.

The former was taught on the very first day to your class by an older student and never discussed again. There was no need, because no one ever held a chair any other way ever again. Ever. Again.

The latter was a bit trickier. You really had to want to speak in front of people to get much out of it. But I think everyone had to speak out in class and did their best to overcome the fear. For the braver and talkier, there were 2 avenues open to you: debate competitions and taking assembly.

I was all about taking assembly. I lived for it. From 2nd form (about 13-14) and up, each class had to take assembly at least once for the term. There were 4 assembly days in every 6 and it a was supposed to be a different pair of girls at the podium each time. The entire class chose the topic and worked on it together (in theory) and the 2 girls taking the stage would do the final speech and present it.

My first one was so scary. I was still 12 and never stood in front of a huge crowd like that. 700+ girls, all of the teaching staff sitting on the stage to my right and the principal sitting next to the podium on my left. I don't remember what I spoke about, just that I loved it.

By the time I left school, I was taking the stage 2 or 3 times for my class, which I am sure my classmates appreciated because they didn't have to stand next to the P for 15 minutes while she checked out your shoes, nails and uniform belt. That was really the scary part: is my uniform exactly as it should be?

Those years were such a good foundation for me that even though years would pass before I ever had to speak in public again, I was always ready for it. I always write what I want to say and that helps no one.

I have no issue reading from the notes I made for myself when I get called on in class. I am not a memorizer so I write that shit down for a reason. I think a lot of people feel they need to sound off-the-cuff and not rehearsed. I am more eloquent with the written word and have no issue reading what I wrote. They are still my words.

I think I have some of the best 1L Profs. If you tell them before class you aren't prepared, they won't call on you. They will make a note of it but you get 2 free passes before it begins to affect your standing. One of them said just a note with a name will suffice, a reason isn't needed.

Another problem is many of the young'uns haven't had any kind of public speaking experience in undergrad and getting called on for the first time can feel like death. The thought of getting called on makes them start to shake. And the Profs don't just ask one question. If they start with you on one case, they keep at you, or keep coming back to you even after volunteers are called on.

It's pretty clear who likes to talk. Most people have something to say, so Profs take volunteers a lot. It's still early in the semester, so I don't know if Profs are going to recognize the talkers and call on them a lot when they volunteer and cold-call the ones who don't. They don't know most names-to-faces as yet, so sometimes a person who has volunteer several answers or points gets called on in the same class. I kinda wish the Prof would give that person a break and call on someone else. Not because she's not brilliant, but just to hear someone else's point of view. I'm sure no one agrees with me on that point. If that person is being called on, it lessens the chances of someone else being called on!

I know at least 2 of my Profs knows my name and my face. I am making sure that one of them is going to know my face real good. I have to find a way to get the 3rd to know me but I'm not really having a problem in that class, so I might have to make one up.