20 comments on “The stuff of nightmares – but what’s yours?

  1. I get anxiety attacks and practice breathing, PKs give me the worse anxiety as you have had the chance to witness, but teaching gives me nightmares. There was the year I kept dreaming about being in tornados. I read into it and it was supposed to represent feeling like things are chaotic and you have no control over them. I ended up buying this tornado necklace they sold at one of the museums I used to work at. It is kind of a kid thing but it gave me peace somehow, LOL! Maybe a symbolism of facing my fears. Anyway, the nightmares stopped soon after.

  2. From time to time I dream that I am late to class and I get lost on my way to the school on the day I’m starting a new group. Or worse: this other recurring nightmare in which I am in front of a group and I haven’t prepared my class and have absolutely no idea what to say (I guess this is every teacher’s nightmare, isn’t it?).

    • Hi Carina,

      yes I know THAT one – the not knowing what to say! And your brain tells you that you DO know it’s just that in the dream you can’t find what you know!!!!



  3. Hi Jeremy,

    I think it’s to be expected, the nightmares and the anxiety before the presentation. In a way I always find them good, it allows me to deal with my fear well before the event itself, so on the day it’s only the adrenalin going, which is good and important. But the risk of floundering or doing something silly lessens.

    My nightmares: like everyone, the one of being or feeling naked before an audience (but when we present we do “expose” ourselves). I also have ones in which I can’t find my presentation room and arrive too late. It is such a huge let down. But the worst ones are those in which no one turns up to the room….and you’re left with that eternal dilemma: when do I leave and accept – that’s it, the end and no presentation will happen. This is the worst one.

    But, I am sure we are all going to be fine next week – full rooms, audiences enjoying our talks, asking lovely questions and everything else.


    • Oh wow, Valeria! I’ve just remembered! a HORRIBLE nightmare I had where for some reason I couldn’t find the room and the president or someone was waiting, and the scene kept changing – and when I did arrive the official party was leaving in disgust and everyone was cross with me….:-(!!!

      Yes, we WILL be fine!


  4. Hi Jeremy,

    Remember we met in Mex city at the Anglo Forum conferences this year? I remember asking you how you managed not to feel nervous before a talk. You did say to me that that was not the case and went on to say you still experience a bit of nerves. As I read this now, I confirm your honest words back then.

    I recently had a nightmare in which, as I arrived at the place for my talk, all the audience started to talk about me, staring at my clothes! I later realised I was in my pijamas and slippers! Seriously, hope I don’t forget to dress properly before any conference/talk.

  5. First, Jeremy and gang, it will be a joy to meet you all in just a few days! Thrilling, as always!
    As for the nightmares, I guess PKs were part of my worst ones! A recurrent one, though, is starting presented and being totally naked in front of the audience. Is it really a nightmare? Maybe it is just an analogy for what really happens, isn´t it?!

    And, of course, the one about being late or forgetting everything I had to say!

    Beijos e te vejo logo em Liverpool!

    • Hello Carla,

      longing to see you in Liverpool. It will be such good fun!

      I guess the naked one, the being late or not knowing what to say are the most common ones, aren’t they?!!


  6. You never warned me about all this, Jeremy, when you encouraged me to apply to speak!

    My nightmare is becoming so nervous that I speak at top speed and finish saying everything in five minutes flat, without anyone understanding a word of what I’ve garbled.

    It’s nice to know everyone gets nervous, and has their own fears, no matter how much experience they have. Thanks for sharing! See you all in Liverpool 🙂

    • Hello Katy!

      Really looking forward to seeing you in Liverpool!

      Ah, that’s a new one….superfast speaking! I’ll wait to see if that one comes around.


  7. Dear Mr. Harmer:

    Fortunately or not I cannot remember any nightmares now.
    Instead I would like to thank You for your impressive presentation at IATEFL. It has indeed inspired me with new vitality.

    Sincerely yours,
    sara hejazi

  8. On occasion I have teach-mares, very similar to some of the presentation-mares you described above. There’s the one where none of the students will listen; the one where I can’t find the classroom I’m supposed to teach in; and the one where I find myself in the front of a class, without a lesson plan, and with an administrator / principal watching me. All these dreams seem to be based on real fears and some experiences, but in dreams these anxieties balloon out of control. Nice to know Jeremy that I’m not the only one to have these types of dreams. I wonder what Freud would make of the above.

    • Hi Nathan,

      yes, it IS nice to know that many of us have the same worries. The ‘loss-of-face’ nightmare – whatever the details are – is obviously commonplace. And yes, in dreams things get wildly out of proportion!

      Freud? Well probably it would all be something about childhood or sex!


  9. Hi Jeremy, I don’t usually have nightmares because I can’t sleep at all when I ‘m anxious. I wish I had nightmares instead of insomnia. But even worse than nightmares or insomnia, are those moments of anticipation you experience minutes before presenting and you wonder who is going to show up — or if anyone at all will show up, and how it’s going to be. And as people walk into the room, you look at their faces, smile and panic over the thought of messing up or not being up to the task. Fortunately, your fears go away the minute you get started and your enthusiasm grows and finally there you are enjoying yourself again as if fear and panic had never crossed your mind before. But I do enjoy having butterflies in my stomach and no matter how experienced one is, “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” (Heraclitus).

    • Hi Teresa,

      thanks for coming along.

      the pre-talk nerves are incredible, aren’t they. I know exactly what you are talking about. The worried look at the door. Watching people pass to go to someone else’s presentation. An absolute belief that what you had planned (and what seemed like such a good idea what you planned) is rubbish…etc

      But yes, once we start, well after the first laugh or first murmur of interest – that feeling in the room – it all goes away.

      Butterflies. Yes, good!!


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