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As you hear your name being announced, you start quivering in fear. Sweaty palms. Dry throat. Weak knees. An overwhelming feeling of nausea. You get the perception that you are on a mission to slay a legendary dragon. Nay! The reality is much worse. You suffer from Glossophobia, which means speech anxiety or the fear of public speaking. Slaying a real-life fire-breathing dragon would actually be a less terrifying task than speaking in front of an audience. As you move towards the stage, conscious of a million eyes upon you that scrutinize every movement and detail, ready to bestow the harshest critiques and cruelest taunts at the merest of mistakes, you feel cold and numb. You can’t feel your hands. Your throat is choked. You drag yourself to the podium, feeling half-dead like a zombie, give a frightened look at the audience and let out a whimper- “G-g-g-good m-m-morning all”

This traumatizing experience is common amongst many people who suffer from Glossophobia. Just the thought of going on the stage makes most people break into a sweat. Though the only way to cure yourself of this affliction and instil confidence is regular practice and making frequent public speeches, there are 5 mantras that are immensely helpful in helping you overcome stage fright:

1. “Being a little shameless never harmed anyone”

Yes. You read that right. This doesn’t mean that you should start exhibiting vulgar behavior while on the stage, but demonstrate the willingness to take into stride any ensuing laughter or hooting from the audience. Once you get the ability to laugh at yourself, the audience will laugh along with you. Make some self-effacing jokes or use general humor to break the ice.

2. “Don’t flee away by the shore rather row against the tide”

Do not be overwhelmed by the situation. Even if the odds are against you or the audience is hostile, turn it to your favor by improvising and adapting.

3. “I believe in my content, and so does the audience”

Always do proper research and have confidence in your content. If you can deliver your message across with aplomb then the audience will also have faith in your content.

4. “I am the king of the stage, and the audience are my subjects”

When you speak on the stage, you own it. You address a large group which latches on to every word you utter, listening with rapt attention. Consider this similar to the medieval times when the king addressed his subjects and they listened to him eagerly, with utmost reverence and respect. Once you adopt that mindset, nothing can stop you from conquering your stage fright.

5. “Speaking energizes and excites me”

Make the mic your best friend, and the podium your ship where you are the numero uno, the captain who will sail it through difficult waters. Treat public speaking as a blank canvas where you can use a repertoire of skills to narrate amusing anecdotes, emotionally uplifting incidents, and tales that will leave the audience filled with awe and wonder. Be excited about the prospect of sharing your knowledge and experiences with a large group, among which there will probably be individuals who can relate to it on a personal level. Always think of the chance to make a difference in the lives of people through public speaking.

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We live in an era where apps like Tinder and TrulyMadly have made dating a quotidian exercise. With merely a swipe of the phone, you can hook up with a person in a matter of a few minutes. However, meeting a person in flesh and blood is vastly different from connecting with someone online.

With a slew of filters and photo editing apps available, one can easily come across as a glamorous celebrity on the internet, while reality could be quite disappointing. Another aspect where there can be a stark disparity between your online persona and real-life personality is communication skills. You might come across as suave, sleek and humorous onscreen, while in real life, you could be a meek and shy person, detached from the social niceties and etiquette.

To make your life easier, here is a lowdown of how you should behave on your first date. Remember, don’t be clingy or creepy!

Siddharth: Hello there! You are Tanvi, right?

Tanvi: Hey Siddharth! So cool to meet you finally.

Siddharth: So what’s up!

Tanvi: I am good. Everything is great. How about you?

Siddharth: I am awesome as usual.

Tanvi: I am really glad I finally got to meet someone on Tinder who is a fan of Game of Thrones.

Siddharth: Me too! Otherwise, most girls were into Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey only.

Tanvi: So who is your favorite character? Mine is Jon Snow!

Siddharth: Jon Snow is cool. However, I like Tyrion Lannister the most. His quotes are to die for. And Peter Dinklage is a fantastic actor.

Tanvi: I agree. The entire cast has done a wonderful job, in fact.
What other TV shows do you watch?

Siddharth: There are many that I watch. Friends, Suits, The Big Bang Theory, Stranger Things, Breaking Bad and so on.

Tanvi: Yeah, same here. Most of my free time goes into Netflix.

Siddharth: Hah! Netflix. These streaming services result in a lot of time being wasted, but I don’t mind that at all.

Tanvi: Absolutely. There is nothing better than spending your Sunday watching a Netflix show or curling up in your bed with a nice cup of coffee and a book.

Siddharth: I also love to read. I am a huge fan of fantasy fiction and classic literature. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are my favorites. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Somerset Maugham, Jules Verne, and HG Wells are among the best authors I have read.

Tanvi: Fantastic! We have a lot to discuss then.
What are your other hobbies?

Siddharth: I love watching movies. I like to paint, travel and am somewhat of an amateur photographer as well.

Tanvi: Wow! I also love to travel. Apart from that, I like writing and dancing. I am a trained Bharatnatyam dancer.

Siddharth: That is wonderful! Have you performed any live shows?

Tanvi: Several, in fact. I will inform you when the date of the next show is out.

Siddharth: You are really talented. I firmly believe a person is so much more than his or her online persona so that’s why I love meeting people!

Tanvi: I fully agree. People waste their time chatting online or pinging random profiles. It’s like they have become slaves to the machine.

Siddharth: Indeed. We spend our time more online than in the real world!

Tanvi: If I may dare ask, how many siblings do you have?

Siddharth: An elder brother and a younger sister. Brother is a medic with the U.N. Peacekeeping forces and sis is pursuing her engineering.

Tanvi: Wow! That is really amazing. I have just a younger brother. He is pursuing his graduation in commerce, but also wants to be a singer!

Siddharth: Superb! Nowadays, kids are going beyond the conventional domains of medicine, engineering and law to pursue alternate careers. Welcome change from the mindset of the yesteryear.

Tanvi: I agree. So do you want to go to a nice café or something?

Siddharth: Sure! Let’s go. We will have a nice cup of coffee and then talk.

Vocabulary Note

Quotidian = Of or occurring everyday
In flesh and blood =
An actual, living person
Social niceties =
Good manners, being polite, and doing what is socially acceptable in society.

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Air pollution is a persistent problem faced by the people of Delhi. At times, the air becomes so chock-full of dust and smoke that you can literally swallow it. The situation worsens during the winter season when the miasma of smog cloys around the environment, making conditions nearly unlivable. Breathing and lung problems become common, with kids and the elderly suffering the most. Since air pollution is such a recurring issue in Delhi, you sooner or later find yourself discussing the same with a friend. Here is how a dialogue or English conversation goes down on this topic:

Shivani: Hi Rajat, how are you?

Rajat: Hi Shivani, I am good. Did you see the pollution levels today?

Shivani: Yes, I was going to discuss that only. The situation is worsening by the day.

Rajat: Unbelievable. What is the government doing? Every year, we have to face the same problem.

Shivani: Right. Vehicular pollution, crop burning, rampant construction activities and incessant bursting of firecrackers has led to this. I can only shudder to think what would happen post Diwali.

Rajat: I agree. There should be some sort of check on this. People are suffering and no concrete steps are being taken.

Shivani: Tell me. I haven’t gone to office for the past couple of days. Working from home. Grandparents have developed a terrible breathing problem and need to take care of them.

Rajat: Whoa! That sounds serious. Have you got them admitted? I got my younger brother admitted to RML Hospital. His asthma condition has deteriorated over the last week.

Shivani: That is awful. Please take care of him. I wanted to ask- which are the air purifiers available in the market? And can you also please suggest some good oxygen masks?

Rajat: I guess you can go for a Honeywell air purifier. Been using it since the past few months. And a Dettol oxygen mask will do the task.

Shivani: Oh thank you! I will need to go out after a few days and from the looks of it, seems impossible without a mask.

Rajat: I agree. It is like a gas chamber out there. A report said that it is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes daily!

Shivani: Hmm. I guess I will have to shift out of Delhi after I get married. This is no place to raise a family. Every other kid I know has developed some sort of breathing problem.

Rajat: I am planning the same. Will ask for a transfer to Bangalore. By the way, have you seen the petition doing the rounds on Change.org, asking the CM to take immediate action to alleviate the pollution problem?

Shivani: Yeah, I signed it. Does anything good ever come out of these petitions? I doubt it.

Rajat: One can only hope.

Shivani: Thanks again, Rajat. Take care of your family. I am hoping it rains soon. At least, we will be able to breath.

Rajat: Fingers crossed. Let’s hope the monsoon arrives early. Take care of your family. Bye!

Shivani: Cya! Bye!

Joined a new job recently? Here is an English conversation on how to discuss your job with a friend.

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