How to stop hiccups when speaking to a journalist

How to stop hiccups when speaking to a journalist

This article was originally published on the Johnson King “Whatever” blog. As Johnson King no longer exists, I thought I would repost it here for the good of all humankind. Unfortunately the original illustrations appear to be missing, so I’ve redone those.

There are some trade secrets which you have a moral duty to share with other spokespeople around the world. My work revolves around being a spokesmodel for Sophos, one of the world’s largest computer security companies. Minutes matter when it comes to telling the world about the latest virus outbreak, and one of the worst things that can happen to you mid-call is to be assailed by hiccups whilst going into essential technical detail of the vulnerabilities that companies need to patch in the next 30 minutes.

I’ve tried everything to stop hiccups. Holding my breath, drinking a glass of water upside down (which risks drowning via the nostrils), having a colleague burst a paper bag behind my head. In the past, I even had a girlfriend tell me that she’s pregnant in a vain attempt to stop involuntary spasms of my diaphragm. None of these are definite fixes, and they don’t really work when you’re going full steam into the financial motives of hackers operating from a basement somewhere in darkest Peru.

And then, one day, a friend showed me a cure for hiccups which really does work. Every time. And it’s portable, and doesn’t require standing on your head or having a crisp packet to hand.

When you start hiccuping, take your left hand, hold it in front of you….


…and press perpendicularly on the thumb nail with your right thumb and index finger.

Thumb 2

Press hard.

You should see your thumb begin to turn a bit red.

Keep pressing!

If you do this for long enough, you will control your hiccups, and they will disappear.

Now, you’re probably not on an important PR call right now, and you probably won’t have hiccups today. But one day, soon, you will be hit by hiccups, and you won’t know how to get rid of them. Try this technique.

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Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

One comment on “How to stop hiccups when speaking to a journalist”

  1. mark ma

    i'll try this, but my go-to has been to hold breath, and drink a cup of water without taking in air.

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