Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt at a loss for words?

Did you ever stumble on your own words or lose your train of thought?

Have you ever felt embarrassed because you weren’t quite sure of how to get out of this situation?

We’re going to talk through what you can do to approach such situations and what you can say to get things back on track.

Here’s a question that talks about this very situation that you have likely found yourself in.


Hey Lindsay and Michelle!

Nice to “e-talk” to you.

Thank you for the brilliant work you provide by sharing every day, which makes my mornings brighter and warmer! 😀

I live in London and I hear your podcasts daily in my commute to work. I’m Brazilian and lived the past 3 years in Orlando, FL before moving here a couple of months ago. I need to say that there are a lot of differences between the 2 countries – and it’s not just the weather and the accent, LOL. But I’m overcoming that!

I’m writing because there is kind of an embarrassing situation that frequently happens to me at work, and maybe to other students as well. Many times when I start a conversation or even when I’m explaining a simple idea to someone in the office, suddenly I loose the words and get myself stuck.

I try unsuccessfully to find the best words to describe the idea.  I go mute for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and try to finish a sentence before I even really start it.  I am usually stammering at this point because I get so nervous.  I guess the problem is that the person often looks at me and frowns, which makes me feel even worse. I then completely lose my train of thought! Is this normal?

I was wondering if you guys have a suggestion to approach this situation and try to make it funny. I’d like to somehow make it lighter, rather than embarrassing. What kind of expressions would a native speaker  use as an ice breaker to avoid getting nervous when those “blackouts” happen?

Thanks you so much girls!

Lorena Moro  


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Turning A Negative Into A Positive

Trying to turn this embarrassing situation into something lighthearted is a great approach.

We’ve all been in this situation, and it’s all about how you find your way out of it. 

There are different approaches to fit different situations, so you have to think through which one fits best for you at the moment.

  • Brain fart: You might not say this at work or in a professional setting, but it can work well in everyday conversation. It’s saying that you forgot what you were going to say, but in a light and funny way. This puts people at ease and helps you through feeling awkward.
    • “Oh sorry, I totally just had a brain fart!”
  • Sorry, my brain was working faster than my tongue: This is another informal and kind of funny response to an awkward situation. There may be some truth to it, but you are keeping it light and airy. It’s saying that you lost track of what you were saying.
    • “So I think, um..sorry my brain is working faster than my tongue!”
  • Apparently I’m at a loss for words! It may be the situation or conversation, but this says that you can’t remember what you were going to say next. It may also mean that you aren’t sure what to even say next, which happens to all of us.
    • “It’s unreasonable to think that this work can’t..ah apparently I’m at a loss for words!”
  • Sorry, I can’t get this thought out for some reason!  This speaks to the fact that you have something to say but you can’t quite get it out. You may have a thought but putting it into words is difficult at the moment.
    • “I have an idea but I’m sorry I just can’t seem to get this thought out for some reason.”

These phrases are more lighthearted and silly, and so they work well in a more informal setting.


Consider Your Setting and Audience

The phrases above work well in a moment where you want to use self deprecating humor.

However, it’s also important to note that there is nothing wrong with taking a deep breath and being comfortable with the silence.

Everyone has been through this and so if you take that moment and let there be silence,  people will wait and forget about it.

This is a bigger deal to you than it is to them, so try to remember that.

It shows great confidence being comfortable while you search for the right words.

Also remember to pay attention to intonation–you have to try to have a bit of fun with your voice or else it will sound too serious.



We’ve all been in this type of situation, so you have a choice to make.

You can be comfortable with the silence and try to regroup,you can be serious and work through it, or you can try to make a joke and keep it light.

All three have different feelings behind them and can make people perceive you in a different way.

Decide carefully and don’t be afraid of silence or mixing these techniques up a bit!

Each approach can work well in different situations, so think it through and try each one out at the right time.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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