Escape your comfort zone: I have a mortal, lifelong fear of public speaking. Can I be cured?

I am not sure if it’s social phobia or stage fright, perhaps a bit of both. But I want it to stop. So I sign up for something that terrifies me – an improv class

I am in the pub. It is dark, loud and at full capacity. Sitting with a group of people, my mind drifts towards something funny that happened at work. I wonder if it is funny enough to repeat and, if so, how it would sound if I were to say it out loud. I mouth the story to myself, word by word, trying out different intonations.

Further inane questions skip through my mind. How do I start the story? Do I provide dialogue? Do I do voices? Under the table, my hands rehearse the accompanying gestures. Just as I am about to speak, I sense an ambient dread rising up, like reflux. I blush and the conversation moves on.

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