My experience of saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no”

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Last Saturday night at 10PM, after I had just put my three-year-old to sleep, I received a message.

The sender was a reporter for a local news station. She said that she wanted to interview me the next morning (Sunday) for a short segment on the news. It was going to be recorded on camera!

My first reaction in my head was: “But tomorrow is Sunday! I just want to wake up late and have brunch with my family at our favourite roti canai restaurant!”

Plus, I had a cheeseburger and fries for dinner so I wasn’t exactly feeling camera-ready, if you know what I mean.

I asked her if we could do it on Monday, but it turned out that the segment would be aired on the same day. 

I finally agreed and she sent me some questions so I could prepare my answers.

The next morning, I woke up early and typed out my answers so I could refer to them from my phone later.

I was nervous as ever. I messaged my mum for support, walked around in circles, gulped down a mug of coffee.

I’ve never done an interview in Malay before. I speak Malay all the time but for it to be on camera? My grammar will be all over the place! 

At 11AM, I arrived at the office building of the news station. After meeting the lovely reporter, entering the building, and handing over the security guard my IC, I immediately found myself sitting on their studio set with bright lights and a camera focused straight at me. Pressure, much?

When the reporter asked me the first question, I completely forgot my points! I basically answered her with what I had prepared for the second question. So when she asked me the second question, I was repeating myself!

Plus, I was struggling to speak in proper Malay with proper grammar. Saying “mereka” and “kami” instead of “diorang” and “kitorang” just sounds so unnatural to me. It was distracting my focus.

So I said, “I’m sorry! Can we stop and start over? I need to look at my notes.”

The reporter was understanding and gave me some time. So I grabbed my phone that was in my handbag and read over my notes.

As I was going over what I had written, it was all just a blur to me. The reporter and the cameraman were eagerly waiting for me so I thought, “Whatever. Just answer the questions based on what you already know. You got this.”

So it got better after that (I think!). I spoke how I naturally would speak in Malay conversations, I tried to forget about having perfect grammar and I didn’t bother to remember what I had already prepared.

Of course, I wasn’t entirely happy with how I did. As I drove back home, I was playing over in my head what I could’ve done better.

But I did learn a few things from this experience that I think would be beneficial for you, too.

1. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone.

Yeah, all I wanted was to have a lazy Sunday where I was free to do anything I wanted. Plus, I’ve never done video interviews before. I could have said “no” to the interview, but I said “yes” because it was a rare opportunity. And I learned a lot from it.

2. You need to be prepared for the unexpected.

We get emails from subscribers and students about this all the time. They get nervous if a foreigner stops them and asks for directions, or a big boss asks to share an idea or opinion. These kinds of situations happen and we have to respond almost instantly. The only way to prepare for these things is to be always practising.

I know that if I want to do better next time, I’ll need to practise speaking more in front of camera–in English and in Malay.

3. The first time is going to be bad.

This was my first video interview and I think I did terribly. But I’m okay with that. Now I know that I’ll be better if I get another call from a reporter. I think I’ll be a bit more confident next time because I’ve already had the experience.

So if you’re afraid to start something, just know that the first time is going to be bad. But you’ll get better after doing it consistently.

4. Forget about grammar and speak from your heart.

When I stopped trying to speak with proper grammar and stopped trying to recall everything I had written that morning, I found myself more confident and able to answer the questions.

I just had to trust myself that my points were inside of me and that it would eventually make its way out. That goes for you too. Whether it’s in Malay or English, trust that you have what it takes to speak from your heart.

So there you have it. This is a long post, but I hope by sharing my experience you’re able to learn something about yourself as well.

Best regards,


P.S. Oh, if you’re wondering about how it turned out on air, the segment didn’t make it. Maybe they had to make way for breaking news or it’s been pushed to a later date. I have to admit, I was relieved about that 😀

Update! The segment was aired on Saturday, 27 July 2019. Here’s the video:

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We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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