How to OVERCOME SHYNESS & speak confidently in English

Lesson Overview

3 steps to overcome shyness and start speaking English confidently! If you feel shy when you speak English, this lesson is for you!


Video Transcript

All right let’s talk about shyness in English.

If you’re a regular viewer of mmmEnglish, you’ll know that every video I create here is to help you speak confidently in English. But how can you speak confidently if you’re too shy or too nervous to even start?

Today I want to share three strategies with you to help you overcome shyness and to start speaking in English. So if you want to stop feeling shy or nervous when you speak in English, make sure you stick around.

If you’re a shy person, like me, we think shyness is an inherent part of who we are like we’re born that way but shyness is based on our perception and our ideas of the world around us and that can be changed.

Did you hear that? It can change. You can overcome shyness.

So speaking as a shy person who’s been working on overcoming shyness my entire life, still working on it, I know how shyness, how nervousness and self-doubt stops me or even blocks me from doing the things that I really want to do, that I dream of doing. I also know that I have confidence within me. We all have confidence within us. And we can find more confidence within ourselves but we need to look for it. We need to coax it out. We need to create the right environment to nurture that confidence and allow it to grow.

It’s ironic really that the confidence within us is actually quite timid and shy. Our confidence is the first thing that runs and hides. The moment that we make a mistake, the moment that we feel foolish, the moment that we feel like we’re being judged, it’s our confidence that bolts out the door.

So I’ve got three strategies to help you overcome shyness and to speak English confidently.

#1 Practise Speaking!

The first and most important strategy to overcome shyness and to speak more confidently in English is to practise.

You might think I’m absolutely crazy but bear with me. The thought of speaking to someone in English can be scary, right? Maybe for some of you it’s paralysing. Your instinct is telling you to avoid it.

Don’t take the risk!

It’s just your brain and your body trying to protect you.

But in order to overcome that shyness and your fear of speaking in English, you’ve got to prove to yourself that it’s not as scary as you think it is. You need to start collecting evidence that helps you to demonstrate that you can speak to someone in English and that it’s quite simply not as scary as you thought. This is what you need to prove to yourself.

But in order to start collecting that evidence you need to create the environment where you feel safe and supported enough to speak. If the only place that you speak English is at work with your colleagues or your boss then this could be terrifying for you, it’s not a safe or a supportive space unless your boss is super patient and willing to help you overcome your fear.

You need to create a different space, a safe space where you can start to speak and that could just be a space with a friend or with your English tutor or an online speaking community where you feel supported enough to step out of your comfort zone.


Many of you have heard me talk about Hey Lady! which is a speaking practice community for women only especially women who are looking for a safe and supportive space to practise their speaking skills.

But Hey Lady! also has a specific program for this, the English Confidence Makeover. It’s a 45-day transformational speaking program for women who need to overcome shyness and start to speak English more confidently. This is where we help women to say goodbye to shy. Enrolments are open right now and classes start in two weeks. Start in November and be speaking in December.

Ladies, this might be the moment that you change your spoken English forever. The link to find out more about the program is down in the description. I recommend you check it out.


If you’re a shy English speaker then finding and creating an environment in which you do feel safe and you can practise speaking, that is the most important step. If you’ve got questions about how you can do that, ask me down in the comments below.

#2 Overcome Shyness as you PREPARE to speak

So the next strategy that I want to share with you is a little more practical. It’s for that moment when you’re preparing to speak.

So perhaps you’re just about to join your class or you need to call someone on the phone. If you’re shy and you’re worried about speaking you might be experiencing a racing heart or shallow breathing or a tight chest or sweaty hands or all of those things! I really hate those feelings like you’re already feeling anxious. And all of those things are just physical evidence of the fact that you are anxious and that you’re worried.

So in those moments, you’ve got to try and regain control over your body. To create more confidence within you, you need to reduce some of those physical symptoms.

So give yourself three to five minutes before you need to speak to focus on your breath. So find somewhere where you can sit still, close your eyes and focus on drawing your breath deeper down inside you. When we’re nervous we’re usually breathing up here. So we’re taking short shallow breaths.

If you can start to regulate your breathing and your heart rate by taking your breath from here down to here, this is going to help you to feel calmer and to take control over your breathing.

If you put your thumb here just below your rib cage and you practise breathing in deeply, you should get to the point where you can feel your diaphragm, that’s this area here, pushing out against your thumb. So allow it to expand as much as possible, as much as you can.

Imagine that each deep breath is creating more space for confidence and it’s inviting that confidence in and while you’re doing this I want you to think of some positive affirmations, some positive thoughts.

I’m looking forward to this conversation.
I’m creating new opportunities to learn and grow.
I will contribute to this conversation and enjoy meeting someone new.

All of this is going to be helping you to stay calm, to reduce those bodily symptoms of fear and anxiety and to bring more calm and more confidence into you.

#3 Overcome Shyness WHILE you are speaking

Okay so this last strategy is going to help you to overcome shyness while you’re speaking.

During your conversation I want you to try and shift the focus away from yourself and focus on the people or the person that you’re speaking with. Us shy folk are usually focusing inward. We’re focusing on our racing heart and the things that we said wrong or that we can’t seem to say right, we’re too focused on ourselves.

So a strategy that always works well is to focus your energy away from yourself and onto them. Be as curious as you can be. Ask questions, show interest, find out more about this person. This encourages them to keep talking which means you do less talking. And it helps them to feel interesting and special so their ego is going to be flattered. We’re going to be stroking their ego.

Plus it gives you the chance to capitalise on one of your best assets, your listening skills. As shy people we tend to spend a lot of time listening and thinking. This is one of our strengths.

So as that other person is talking, focus on the words they’re saying, don’t be worried about what you’re going to say next, focus on their words. Listen for interesting ideas that you can ask for more information about. Listen for similarities or things that you might have in common. If you spend your time focused on them, not on yourself, you will feel less anxious and less stressed.


So if you are a shy or nervous English speaker I hope you feel inspired to start speaking now. More than anything, creating the space where you feel safe and supported enough to start speaking, that is the most important thing. In order to overcome your fears and shyness, you must start to speak.

Don’t forget to check out the Hey Lady! English Confidence Makeover, a 45-day speaking program for women who want to overcome shyness and speak English confidently. The link is down in the description.

Ladies, this could be this space where you start to speak. And what happens after you start? That will astound you. Sending love and lots of confidence to all of you my friends, you can be sure that I will always be here at cheering you on.

Links mentioned in the video

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