une idée fausse

Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, french-word-a-day.com
Shakespeare and Company: an historic expat bookstore in Paris. Still soaring from the high of speaking at the American Library... I marched right into Shakespeare & Co. (before Fear had a chance to bully me and lie to me again...) and offered up my new public speaking services... To get this new gig--I acted as if--as if I had the confidence and composure of a conquistador (never mind that my previous speaking engagements included passing out on the floor). Convinced, they signed me for an author's talk on March 1st! 

Pronounce It Perfectly in French - with exercises in sound discrimination and accurate sound creation. Order your copy here.

idée fausse (ee-day fowce) noun, feminine

    : misconception

(The verb is "suer" : je sue, tu sues, il sue, nous suons, vous suez, ils suent => past participle = sué)

Audio File & Example Sentence: Download Wav File

Une idée fausse, mais claire et précise, aura toujours plus de puissance dans le monde qu'une idée vraie mais complexe.

  (Please help me to translate this sentence in the comments box!)

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

The following are some idées fausses, or misconceptions, that were running around my hopeful mind during the week leading up to my (once feared and dreaded) public talk:

...When my talk is over I will be okay again...
After my speech I can relax, let go...
...Life will begin again
after the speaking event. I will be able to taste my coffee, feel the breeze on my skin... I will smell the autumn air once again... my senses will no longer be dull (all-consumed with cowardice).

I will go home, put on my favorite soft robe and cozy slippers
and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate....  I will experience bliss. I will have my reward. Imagine this!

The strange thing is: none of these things happened. Instead, I had a revelation:

The joy, the bliss, the aliveness that I believed would be mine after this tortuous trial (a.k.a. The Speech)... instead took the place of it. Instead of feeling like the proverbial deer caught in hell's headlights, during my speech I felt the power of love, warm and bright.  I never felt so alive! The speech was the reward.

Could it be that public speaking is the best-kept secret? And that 99.9 percent of the earth's population (that is, the percentage of people that are petrified by public speaking) are depriving themselves of what is, in reality, a powerful instant -- a divine drop of distilled life?

Public speaking may be, after all, the best-kept secret. If you want to hog the spotlight (and all of the "life" that comes with it) then keep on perpetuating the idée fausse that public speaking is something that will kill you. (It will kill the Ego... so add that to your "Gifts I receive from Public Speaking" list.)

But if you want to join the revolution, and begin to murder the misconception, then please tell someone today that they WILL be okay the next time they have to speak, publicly; that the secret reward that nobody is telling you about is this: speaking can be bliss!

(We'll talk more about this on Friday, when I'll post another list of tips and techniques that worked for me....)


(former fainter, aspiring orator)

Post note: It is important for me to remember that nothing is ever "a given". That is: I have not conquered my fear of public speaking (Coach Conchita, and others of you, might beg to differ). The truth is, as long as we have our fickle "feelings" we won't be spared of what amounts to internal warfare. But we can take winning steps to counter this, and experience the bliss, when we recognize our God-given gift of confidence and assurance.

One of the most common fears that public speakers have is the belief that they will lose control of themselves in front of an audience. For me, this meant that I might somehow come undressed during my speech! (One tick that you will witness--when you view my speech--is this: I kept placing my hand over my heart -- not because it was beating violently (it wasn't)... but because I feared the snaps on my back might come undone (as they had in gym class... before my bra busted, some 20 years back!). Horror of horrors that this might happen again, now--in front of an audience! And so all that obsessive hand-to-heart business you see amounted to my checking (and rechecking) to make sure my "underwear" was still "there".

Witness this tick for yourselves in the video from my Paris talk! See the video immediately, when you sign up to become a supporting member of French Word-A-Day.

Finally, here is a book that I have just ordered. I am excited to learn and grow in the area of public speaking. Won't you join me? Check out this book and read along with me!:In The SpotLight, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing


Comments ~ Corrections ~ Stories of your own...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts in the comments box. Please forward this post to a student or stilted speaker. I hope it will help someone and eventually open the door of opportunity to others.

*   *   *



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Playing My French Coach for 15 to 20 minutes a day is all you need to become fluent in French, no matter your age. The simple touch screen interface lets you spend less time learning the game and more time learning French.

French music: Jacques Brel

Restaurant in Paris, Chez Julien, Lou Pescadou, 2CV, citroen (c) Kristin Espinasse, french-word-a-day.com
 "Parisian Parking"-- why not forward today's edition to a friend? Or sign up a family member for French Word-A-Day?

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Eiffel Tower, Tour Eiffel Paris France (c) Kristin Espinasse

It was a dream come true to speak in Paris at the American Library. Read on, in today's story column. (Picture taken with my camera after the speaking event, as Jean-Marc and I walked back to our hotel.)

jalon (le jah-lohn) noun, masculine

    : milestone


A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

The night before last I stood outside the American Library in Paris thanking the woman who had discovered my blog in 2005 and contacted editor Amanda Patten, in New York, who eventually offered to publish my "Words in a French Life"* through Simon and Schuster.

Out there on the wet library curb the Paris skies had stopped pouring, the rain had subsided -- and so had a lifetime of fear inside of me. I was overjoyed and presently thanking Ann for more than discovering my writing. For, this time around, Ann was helping me to discover the ability to express words off paper. Little did Ann know what a milestone--quel jalon*--this was for me to parler en publique*... and now that the author event in Paris is over, I can finally admit to a big secret:

I passed out the first time I spoke publicly.

And one more secret:
I passed out the second time (years later), too!

Back then, before an audience of peers, my heart began to thump wildly, my skin began to cry a light coat of cowardice, my bones beat (as if they had hearts of their very own) beneath my now soaking skin, and my head clouded up, only to spin... Next thing I knew I was staring at the blurry ceiling above me, my head having hit the floor.... J'étais tombée dans les pommes!*

I have avoided public speaking ever since.

But when Ann contacted me about the Paris speaking event, back in June, I made a decision that I was not going to let this fear control me any longer -- or keep me from enjoying the opportunities that have come my way (though I had spoken in Paris once before, before a group of writers, I have canceled speaking events in France, and avoided them back in the States).

Motivated now to move beyond my crippling fear, I enlisted a coach: Coach Conchita to be exact.

Coach Conchita (a.k.a. "Mom," who lives in Mexico) and I practiced for one intensive week before the event. Coach Conchita, if she had been present in person (our sessions took place via internet and over the phone) would have been wearing a felt fedora with a lengthy purple feather, a leopard poncho, and spurs on her polished boots, that is -- if she had had the luxury -- but luxury (in the material sense, for Mom's spirit is solid gold) left her some time ago. Lately she is trying to keep afloat after the swine flu fiasco which has brought ruin to her fellow compatriots and to herself.

To keep her thoughts and mind off this trying time, Mom generously threw all of her energies into forming me and there began her own signature boot camp ... for would-be speakers who, by fear, have cramped.

During Coach's colorful sessions, I drank in her every word, practiced her every point. I did this religiously as my Coach's name might imply: Coach Conchita, who had set me free 41 years ago, was about to send me on my way again and I went willingly with an enthusiastic amen!

I wanted so badly to overcome the angoisse.*  I was motivated, finally. But when Coach ordered me to film my practice episodes, I almost balked. I didn't want to see my nerves on film (just as one hates to hear one's voice on tape). Mom persevered, giving me instructions on how to hold up... and how not to cower down. Her advice was so fun and funny that I almost forgot my fears. Some of her tips:

(Mom writes): First of all I want you to jump up and down about ten times before you even come onto the screen - I want to see color in your cheeks and feel life!

Pretend you have had 3 glasses of wine and you are telling a new friend the story.  Speak to just one friend you want to entertain with this story - glitter and giggle and smile and laugh.  

Let down all of the screens you are hiding behind and... LET IT RIP !!!!

Coach Conchita offered many golden tips and I followed them all to the T until I could not wait to pass this latest life test -- and try out my new orator's ailes.* 

Finally, it would be ungrateful of me not to share a remarkable remedy that worked for me:
I prayed that panic right out of my little heart... 

Comments are welcome and appreciated! Click here to respond to this post. Thanks, again, to Ann Mah (please see Ann's forthcoming novel) and the équipe at the American Library, for the warm welcome. Thanks also to Catherine Sanderson, who spoke at this event about her books (Petite Anglaise and French Kissing). Catherine was brave to show up (she is due to have her second child any day now). Best wishes to the family.


The Puppy Profiles continue...
Five of Braise's puppies found homes, but our golden girl put her foot down when it came time to give away the only boy. (Well, that's my story, anyway...) The fact is, we had always hoped to keep one of the babies.

golden retriever puppy, month old, france (c) Kristin Espinasse, french-word-a-day.com
Meet "Smokey" (who was to be named "Jackson"... until the kids met another Golden Retriever on our vacation in Austria. Its owner explained how she came to name her golden "Smokey":

"My husband is a fireman," she said.

There are no pompiers in our family, but that didn't keep us from warming to the Austrian woman's story... and to the name Smokey.


Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
Herbes picked in Provence with a blend of Oregano, Thyme, Basil & Marjoram

Pre de Provence Lavender Soap. Imported from France: Pré de Provence, literally translated, means "Meadow of Provence." Transport yourself there with this triple milled

Tune Up Your French :
This book is structured around numerous key areas for improvement, covering everything from tricky grammatical structures to gestures, slang, and humor.

Map of French Cheese (Fromages de France) on Printed Towel:
Printed with a map showing France through their famous cheeses

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety