Tongue-Tied on Stage? Role-Playing Helps

Choose your role model, visualise the speaker, imagine performing like him/her and don’t hesitate to holler for help

Published: 08th September 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2014 02:38 AM   |  A+A-


I am an MBA student. As a result of stage fright I can’t do anything. Also, I am poor in English. Please help me.

I understand you are feeling stuck and want a way out. I would suggest that you look at situations where you are able to perform well rather than limiting situations. When you take stock of what you are doing well, it will give you confidence and happiness. When you are in a happy state of mind, making changes will be easier.

Stage fright is mainly due to two aspects of fear. One is realistic fear — one needs to know who the audience is, what the topic is, and enough practice is needed before delivering a speech. This is functional anxiety and it is important that we invest time in learning how to prepare and deliver a speech.

The second aspect of fear is failures created in our own imagination like, “What if people laugh at me? What if I forget and become blank on stage? What if I am not able to express ideas? What if I struggle and my body language shows lack of confidence? May be my voice is not good,” etc. The second aspect of fear is self-created. To overcome this self-created fear you can tell yourself, “I let go of the unnecessary fear and limiting self beliefs in me. I welcome the power in me to share my ideas freely and effectively. All is well in my world.” Repeating this to yourself will help you let go of unwanted fear.

I will share a four-step model that can help you acquire and hone your public speaking skills. Step one — choose your role model in public speaking. You may find good speeches and speakers on YouTube. Watch them again and again to understand how the speaker is performing on stage. Step two — visualise the speakers’ performance in your mind. Step three — imagine performing like your role model. At such moments you may hear yourself saying, “You are not good and you can’t do it, etc.” Ignore these thoughts. Step four — now become a part of the experience and own this ability to speak at your body level. Experience how your speaking skills have now become part of your physiology. Stop comparing yourself with others. For every little progress you make in developing your language pat yourself. Choose few friends and have an agreement that you will talk in English for an hour everyday without being bothered whether it is right or wrong. You can join English speaking courses if necessary. All the best.

A Geethan is a Chennai-based psychotherapist and organisational consultant. He is the founder-director of Nibbana (Visit You can send in your queries to

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