Think that being calm is over rated?  With all the search for tranquility, hunting for your Zen, and looking for peace and quiet, is there anybody out there with concrete ideas about how to act on the way to our happy place?   How do we appear calm when we are not?

The Chicago Tribune writer Heidi Stevens called and asked me for some tips for How to Fake Being Calm.  I was thrilled when they published my article.  They wanted  tips for appearing cool, calm and collected, even as our hearts and minds are racing.  It was fun to write, and (with permission) here it is for you.

1. Find something to do with your hands.  When we’re freaked out, we don’t eat, tie our shoes, or sharpen our pencils.   We cease to do pedestrian things tasks.  Therefore, if you want to fake being calm, look for something boring to do.    As a professional speaker, my clients often are shocked to see me eat before a speech.  They think, “Look at him!  He’s as cool as a cucumber — he’s eating pot roast!”  Next time you need to fake calm, let them see you casually do something boring.

2. Ask questions about the boring details.  If somebody asks you to jump out of the plane and you want to appear calm, ask them about inconsequential details.  “What color is the plane?”  “Is there a beverage on the flight?”  “Is Larry still flying for that outfit?”  When you go for the details instead of shouting, “But I could kill myself!”  or “How do I know the parachute will work?” they’ll never know you’re a faker.

3. Use the cliche and you won’t need to fake it: “Will this event matter in five years?”   The answer is nearly always, “no.”   Next time you’re craving some calm, ask yourself about the long-term consequences of whatever is bothering you and there’s a decent chance that you won’t even need to fake finding your inner Zen.

4. Sometimes we need time to hide before we can be good fakers. Next time you’re faced with something alarming, excuse yourself with some casual phrase like, “Oh, that sounds fascinating!   But can you give me the details after I use the restroom?”  Hide in the restroom, get yourself together, and come out ready to fake serenity.

5. Ask the question, “What did you learn from that?”  When presented with a crisis, casually ask the messenger this question and let them talk.  And they will.  Give knowing nods and casual,  “Hmmms” while they go on and on.  While they are talking, you’ll appear calm while you figure out a way to be calm.

6. Ask yourself, WWYD?   What would Yoda do?  This works for two reasons — has anybody been cooler under duress than that little green dude?   Learn from your inner Jedi and copy the Master.  Second, it’s such a silly concept — using a puppet as a role model — it can’t but help deliver perspective to whatever seems like a calamity.   Act calm…. it is your destiny!


Brad Montgomery is a funny motivational speaker and who makes business meetings less boring .  Learn more about how he fakes calm at

Thanks Tribune.  It was fun being part of your team, even for just that issue.

Do you need a motivational speaker for your event and are freaking out?  No need to fake calm;  just contact us here and we’ll help make your meeting a success.

Brad Montgomery
Calm Faker, Motivational Speaker, Speaker about Stress at Work, Fan of the Chicago Tribune


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