My Very First Interview on Live Radio! (or How to Boost Your Confidence before a Nerve-Wracking Event)
Photo courtesy of Corrie.

My Very First Interview on Live Radio! (or How to Boost Your Confidence before a Nerve-Wracking Event)

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence, Speaking

It’s the middle of the night. I hear a pattering on my door and I bolt upright.

Yeah?” I shout, wondering if I’d missed all three of the alarms I’d set for myself. No answer.

I check my clock. 4:24am. Phew! I still had six more minutes to sleep. I grumble to myself, silently cursing whoever it was who decided to thoughtfully cut short my final minutes of sleep. Oh well. I was up. Lets do this.

I do some YouTube yoga, eat a grapefruit, and pull myself into my dad’s freezing cold Toyota Corolla. The oil light goes on. Fantastic.

I run upstairs. “Mom, can I borrow your car?!

Fast forward to 6:40am.

I’m sitting in a fancy studio, speaking into a large microphone. This is my first live radio interview and it’s being broadcast to the entire province of Quebec.

The Risk

I knew I’d be nervous. I could easily imagine the thousands of strangers, grumbling to themselves in their cars about having to work on a national holiday, having to listen to me talk about being a “professional multipotentialite” and following your dreams. Or even just imagining my family and friends listening, hanging on every word. Could I have phrased that better? I would think after each line. Ugh.

I knew these thoughts could easily be flying through my head during the interview, pulling me out of the moment, and making me unable to think on my toes. And so I decided to do what I could to curb the nerves in advance. In fact, I was very deliberate about shoring up my confidence ahead of time and walking in with the right mindset.

Here are some techniques that can help you remain calm and focused during a potentially nerve-wracking situation.

1. Accept the Nervousness and Communicate Your Passion Anyway

The worst thing you can do is deny the fact that you’re nervous. Just accept it, allow it, and decide that despite your nerves, you’re going to try to connect with your passion and communicate it. Sometimes I imagine myself taking my nervous energy and putting it in a box somewhere. It’s there, we’re not denying it, but we’re going to work around it.

What’s important isn’t reducing your “um” count or using the perfect sentence structure. What’s important is connecting with your own passion for your topic, and communicating that enthusiasm. When you express your passion, everything else takes care of itself.

The problem is that when you’re feeling insecure, you instinctively want to protect yourself by shutting down, hiding, staying silent. Sometimes you even “lose” who you are. However, the key to connecting with other human beings and breaking through those negative feelings, is actually doing the opposite of what feels safe– allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Open up, but not in anticipation of a reaction. You are a self-assured person who believes in their choices. You don’t need validation. You’re so excited about what you’re doing in the world, that you want to share it.

2. Adopt the Body Language of a Confident Person

The body follows the mind and the mind follows the body. Stand up straight, take up space, and SMILE. It’s impossible to feel bad when you adopt the physiology of a proud, happy person. This signals to your brain to bring on the positive feelings.

3. Take “Mini-Risks” Long Before the Nerve-Racking Event Begins

I’m not sure that driving down freezing cold Montreal streets at 5am in the dark qualifies as a “mini-risk,” but why not.

If you’ve got some big nerve-wracking event coming up, do what you can to be assertive and take action in small ways beforehand. This might mean asking your barista how their day is going, or even just smiling at someone on the street. When faced with the choice between taking action or remaining passive, choose action every time.

Confident people have presence. They affect the things around them. They move. They speak. They assert themselves.

The more you take on these mindsets, the more confident you will feel inside.

I’m not an experienced driver. Taking the car out that early to go across town was an adventure. But I knew that I could do it, and I knew I had to. I needed the confidence boost I’d get by proving to myself that I could do it. And so I did. I parked in the dark, icy lot, locked the car, and strutted in like a professional.

4. Stack Your Wins

See each mini-risk you take as a win, regardless of how other people react. Most importantly, stack those wins.

Congratulate yourself each time you take assertive action in small ways. See each small action as an accomplishment in and of itself, then stack each win on top of the next, building up your confidence.

5. Don’t try to Escape the Scary Moment. Feel it and Embrace It

You know the moment the lights come up on stage or you’re looking out over the podium and all eyes are on you? That moment is profoundly uncomfortable for most of us.

But here’s the thing… It doesn’t have to be.

Instead of trying to “get through it,” or escape the uncomfortable feeling, why not embrace it? Don’t view the moment as something that’s happening to you, view it as a willing step you’re galliantly taking into the unknown. Jump in there, take the spotlight, it’s yours.

You have this awesome opportunity to make the moment whatever you want it to be and set the mood for everyone who’s listening to you. Embrace it and have fun with it. (It becomes surprisingly fun when you notice other people following you into your state. And they do.)

6. Don’t be so Easy on Yourself. Know that You are above Allowing Your Nerves to Derail You.

The night before my interview, I was lying in bed and I thought, I could so easily let my nerves get the best of me. That would be understandable, right? Everyone would get it– my first interview on live radio and all…

Well, you know what?

Fuck that.

I can absolutely rock this. I have it in me. Allowing myself to fall back on nerves as an excuse to perform poorly? I’m above that.

If public speaking is my big goal for 2012, then I’d better start viewing myself as a “speaker.” I must start thinking big, and know that I have stepped into that role.

Even if you’re a total beginner, you must visualize yourself rocking it. You must trust that your character will carry you through, that you have it in you. Only by suspending your disbelief and embodying the future will that future ever become reality. You see it in your mind first, then it becomes possible, then you nail it.


After the interview was over, I smiled a giant smile, shook hands with the studio director, and proudly marched through the empty CBC hallway. I popped into the women’s bathroom and jumped up and down, congratulating myself on the win.

Instead of calling my family (who’d been listening) to express my excitement and receive congratulations, I let this win be mine alone, at least for now.

Then I drove home through the dark, icy Montreal streets, blasting whatever classic rock was coming out of the FM dial, enjoying my moment.

The Interview

Here’s a link to the interview, if you’d like to take a listen. It turned out well, but that’s not really the point.

CBC Daybreak: Opting for multiple career paths with Emilie Wapnick

A big thanks to Silvet, the entire crew of CBC Daybreak, and to the lovely host, Loreen Pindera.

Your Turn

How do you prepare for a nerve-wracking event?


  1. Eleanor says:

    I know I already commented on this post via Facebook, but I just wanted to say that right before I left the house this morning I was like, “you know what? I’m gonna give Emilie’s idea of taking mini-risks a shot!” So often I find myself acting passive when a simple action could be taken…so I’m on a mission to see how many risks I can take today. I’m at five so far and it’s not even 9:30. Thanks for being such an incredible inspiration, Emilie! I’m just hoping to god this all pays off in time for tomorrow’s big event. Which I will tell you about afterwards :)

    • Emilie says:

      I love it, Eleanor!! I think you’ll have a very exciting day. Definitely report back and let us know how it went.

      GOOD LUCK! You’ll be awesome.

    • Emilie says:

      Oh and by the way, fun story. I’m at Starbucks right now. I read your post, went to the bathroom, came back, and the sun was glaring in through the window making it impossible for me to see my screen.

      Instead of moving to a (shitty) table at the back, I decided to be proactive and ask the girls sitting in the window, if they wouldn’t mind me lowering the sun blocker shade thing. They didn’t, and so I did. Now I can see my screen again and few other people thanked me too! Mini-risk complete. Confidence boost. Boo-yah.

      • Eleanor says:

        That is awesome! It’s amazing how not-alone I feel reading about your mini-risk this morning haha. Godbless Puttylike. And thanks for the good luck vibes :)

  2. jennifer says:

    Congrats Emilie!! This is such a fantastic post. I think it’s amazing that you did this interview and I know you’ll reach your big public speaking goal this year. One of my big goals this year is also to start speaking publicly. I think I mentioned before that a few weeks ago I submitted a proposal to speak at one of the biggest events in my industry. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but just knowing I was brave enough to actually write up and submit the proposal is enough for me. :-)

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Jen! And yeah, that’s amazing. I love using external deadlines to jump start personal goals like that. Definitely keep me posted on your speaking endeavors!

  3. Conni says:

    Super-duper awesome, Emilie! You sound really pro in the interview ;)
    Massive congratulations! That’s a huge thing to master!

  4. Rosemary says:

    Hi Emillie, Loved this post…especially as I have a radio and tv interview coming up shortly. So thanks for the great advice! By the way you were really brilliant on the show…not a trace of nerves. Well done YOU! I haven’t been blogging much lately as I was training to be a lifecoach…but coming back soon and hoping to turn my blog into a coaching website too! I’ve dropped in on your blog before and loved it so will definitely subscribe now! Thanks again!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks so much Rosemary! I would definitely love to connect more and hear about what you’re up to. Lets make that happen.

      And good luck with your interview! You’ll be great.

  5. Michelle says:

    Hey good job Emilie! Great post and great interview. You sound good on the radio

  6. Denise says:

    I really resonated with this – “What’s important is connecting with your own passion for your topic, and communicating that enthusiasm.”

    That’s exactly what helps me when I’m nervous. I just try to get in touch with any passion or confidence I have on the topic, and I try not to worry about what I can’t control.

  7. All that detail, for something we all knew you could ROCK? :D

    Congrats Emilie, keep doin’ your thing!

  8. Andy says:

    Great post and great interview, Emilie! You get the message across really succinctly and I reckon you’ll have inspired loads of listeners. It’s such an important point you make about Dallas Clayton and the old ‘you can’t make money being a poet’ line. You can make doing whatever you want if you have the imagination to make it work. Containers are what carry content, and art has expanded to the world of containers – as a musician I have obviously seen it in huge ways – the old standardised container was the CD in a jewel case. This is no longer valuable because it provides no more value than that of a free download. But people still want music and they are still willing to pay for it if you give them what they want, or provide something that will make them realise they want. I love this. You will nail your public speaking goal this year!

    • Emilie says:

      Containers– you’re absolutely right. I love your CD example too. One of my big interests is figuring out ways in which artists can use new technology and blog-based community building to sell their art. I find it so fascinating. There’s a world of opportunity out there if you approach it from the right angle.

      It’s funny, not to be all “connecting the dots,” but this brings up a lot of ideas I used to read about when I was studying media and film. The whole medium and message distinction in particular. (What’s funny is that I never thought Communication Theory would be a practical course, but here I am applying the concepts.)

    • Emilie says:

      p.s. Diggin’ your music! :)

      • Andy says:

        That’s so important for artists yes. I guess it’s that old idea of ‘building a platform’, selling something larger than a product. I love it. Exciting time to be creating. I also find it fascinating that through this you can use artistic expression as a form of ‘marketing’ (for want of a better term) – like you have done with the blog and various other things – that’s essentially marketing as it encourages people to spread your ideas and brings them back to your platform. Content creation, as well as being intrinsically satisfying, is also intrinsically promotion. It’s the sort of ‘marketing’ I can deal with. :)

        That’s really cool – funny when what you think is just useless abstract theory becomes relevant and applicable in real life. Amazing.

        ps. thanks a lot! :)

  9. Rhiiannon says:

    This is great advice! When I used to do theatre performances I found it used to help as well to focus on the ‘high’ you get when you come off stage (or off air in this case) to help get me out there.

    Knowing that the fear was temporary and that the payoff felt SO good was the only thing that got me to get out on stage sometimes.

  10. Joanna says:

    Great interview Emilie! No, it might not be the main point but it speaks to how the techniques work and it is a big card in your “stack of wins” for next time.
    I especially liked and will try to remember/use your advice to sit up and smile. Always get the “fake it til we make it” but we often forget those littlest of things which make a big difference.
    Thank you for your insight and candor (as usual)
    Here is to many more speaking gigs in 2012!

  11. Jonathan says:

    I am late… this was EPIC! Excellent interview!

  12. Jill says:

    I just wanted to take the time to thank you for this amzaing blog/website, I actually stumbled upon your website while looking jobs that involved thinking up ideas. I’m in high desperately trying to find my career, I’hve taken all sorts of classes from science to writing to art and now engineering, almost everything peeks my interest but nothing will jold it and I had almost given up on finding the career that would make work fun for me. I have taken several career tests to see whats best for me and none of them have given me deffinite answer but now I know why… Im a multpotentialist, everyrthing makes sense now. Thank u soo much!

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