Overcoming shyness

Richard Branson

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, I told the journalist: "Mum made us perform as kids in-in-in-in-in-in order to overcome a slight stutter & shyness." She obviously didn't succeed!

Believer it or not, despite all appearances I have always been naturally shy. Mum tried to drum it out of me by explaining how shyness is a form of selfishness. She would tell me being shy was merely thinking of oneself, rather than wanting to make other people happy. Ever since then I have always been willing to get up onstage and perform. This has led to all manner of fun appearances launching Virgin companies and highlighting good causes.

Speaking and performing in public takes practice and confidence. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you will get. However, as the quote shows, my shyness and stutter have never disappeared completely. I am still always nervous before going onstage.

If you also suffer from the same problem, my advice is to try to talk as you would to your best friend. Whether there are one person, ten people or 1,000 people in the room, try to relax and chat as you would in your living room.

And if you still stumble over the odd word, don't worry about it - you're not alone!

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