How to Speak Under Pressure

Hello Robbie,

I am not able to speak continuously; especially in interviews. I get totally blocked. My words don't come out and I don't know what to say next. I can not think of anything while facing an interview or in any extremely emotional situations.

How do you deal with emotional situations and loosing your words? I'd really like to overcome this and maybe I could learn from your experience.

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Jun 10, 2011
How to Speak English under Pressure
by: Robby Kukurs

Thanks for your question, it's very good and relevant to all foreign English speakers out there!

First two things that came to my mind when you mentioned interviews and speaking in stressful situations in general are - preparation and paraphrasing.

If you go for an interview, you definitely have loads of time to prep up beforehand. Make a list of questions that are most likely to be asked, and prepare relevant answers. Learn useful phrases by heart and do an improvised role-play with yourself to see how well you can use those expressions.

The key here is to actually repeat and MEMORIZE as many relevant English phrases as possible - reading alone won't do the trick. You can be very comfortable with going through the list in your mind, but when you actually have to speak, there's a high risk you might get stuck. So make sure you're comfortable answering and asking relevant questions before you go for the actual interview!

Secondly - paraphrasing. We foreigners are notorious for trying to put our thoughts into a certain way; if we get stuck we get very confused because we don't look outside the box, so to speak.

Whenever you're stuck for words, I guarantee you can express the same thought in a slightly different way using other words. Even if you're at a very formal meeting, there's nothing wrong with taking a bit of extra time and explain yourself properly using simple language.

It's important to understand that on 99% of occasions it's our embarrassment preventing us from normal communication - not our inability to speak English properly. Once you accept it, you can deal with it by changing your perspective on things. Start by developing a certain degree of IGNORANCE towards how you see yourself as an English speaker.

Force yourself not to judge your own speech and whenever you feel you shouldn't say something in a certain way and that there's definitely a better way of saying it... keep speaking! That's the moment when you'd normally get stuck because you're probably always analyzing what to say even before you've said it!

Robby Kukurs is the creator of, a website he created in 2007 to help struggling foreign English speakers gain real English fluency.

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