Why Speaking up in Class Can Be Intimidating

Silence in the Classroom can be awkward and boring, but sometimes it’s hard to put yourself out there

It can be intimidating to be the only student to speak up in class. (flickr/ US Department Of Education)

Speaking up isn’t easy, especially when the whole class turns to face you. You’re in the spotlight. Stagefright sets in. 

This can cause real fear for many students, and it happens regularly in school.

We’ve all experienced this: the instructor delivers a lecture and asks if there are any questions that the students might have, to which they are greeted with silence. This is nothing new. I’ve experienced this many times over my years at KPU, and it can feel awkward.

But, as a result of not wanting to be put on the spot, some people just prefer to stay silent. If you happen to be surrounded by these folks, when the instructor comes around to answering questions or encouraging meaningful conversations, the room might stay absolutely quiet—save for the odd tired cough or occasional vibration of phones.

There are many potential reasons for why this happens. It could be how the instructor encourages conversation and discussion; openly thrusting students into the position of talking when they’re clearly not ready for such a task.

The fear of fumbling your words or lacking ideas can also be a good enough reason to deter someone from sharing their thoughts. 

One common reason why people don’t like to speak up openly is that they have a fear of being humiliated in front of the class. After all, there’s nothing like saying what you have to say and then feeling ashamed when the class refuses to respond or validate your input. The silence can be weird and tense, and you might feel like you’ve made yourself look like a fool. 

Because of its small class sizes, student-instructor engagement is where KPU should have an edge over other universities. Students here should feel more comfortable speaking to smaller groups of people. Instructors should be more encouraging when it comes to answering their pupil’s questions. 

In the best circumstances, the small size of each classroom can allow for technically easy communication; there’s no need to raise one’s voice in order to make their responses heard, and the ability to talk with one a peer is less of a struggle.

Thanks to KPU’s smaller classrooms and inclusive discussions, I can proudly say that I am slowly overcoming my introverted nature.

I understand that speaking in front of the class is no easy feat. It especially doesn’t help when the rest of the class is as introverted as you. 

That being said, I can’t help but feel that there is hope for those on the shy side to have their voices heard in school.