Chloë is our new ‘agony queen’. She invites you to take a chair, tell her your problems and await her judgement.

Dear Chloë,

I really struggle with confidence. Even doing silly things like going ordering food at a restaurant, or buying a train ticket. I confuse my words and feel like everyone is judging me. Next month I have to give a career education speech at a local school. I got volunteered by my boss to do it, and I literally cannot sleep at night with worry. Please give me any advice you can about how I can boost my confidence ahead of me giving my speech. James

Hi James. My name is Chloë and I have confidence in spades. I have got so much in fact, I am going to give you some now. Here – take a cupful.

Sadly, confidence is not something I can share, or sell you over Amazon (though am sure plenty of ‘gurus’ will be willing to ‘sell’ you a miracle cure, even if I cannot.)

Confidence cannot be bought, only learnt. And confidence comes through experience. By this I mean, you are assured in your knowledge and message, and have no doubts in sharing it. Your boss obviously has confidence in you if he or she thinks you have valuable experiences and knowledge worth sharing with the pupils of your local school. So if you are assured in your knowledge, why do you have doubts in sharing it? Overcoming these doubts is unfortunately the hardest part. Start by focusing on what exactly you are most afraid of. Do you fear the judgement of others or perhaps crowds? Are you nervous of making mistakes and of not being 100% perfect all of the time? Once you have analysed the root cause, focus on how you can overcome it, or at least be able to manage it.

I met someone with a similar issue who downloaded an app on his new Oculus Rift and was able to practice giving his best man’s speech over and over in front of a virtual room until it became second nature. He had deeper issues to work on, and I suspect the same will be true for you, but at least this approach got him over his initial hurdle and gave him some sleep  ahead of his big day. Try something similar ahead of your speech as an initial step, and then look at the deeper issues once you have stepped off the podium. Good luck!

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