The Fear of Public Speaking: How to Deal with Speech Anxiety

The fear of public speaking

The fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most wide-spread and uncomfortable disorders. Representatives of many fields very often have to speak in public. In general, they are artists, CEO, lawyers, and other occupations related to continuous contact with the audience. However, almost every person has such situations in life when they have to express their ideas in public – that’s why it is so important to know how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

According to the psychologists’ reports, 95% of all population on the planet suffers from speech anxiety. The fear of public speaking is one of the most popular phobias that not only makes a reporter feel uncomfortable, worsens psychological state and physical health but also obstructs implementation of job duties and block further career.

For many people, speech anxiety is a huge problem, and wrong and incomplete therapy in order to get rid of the fear of public speaking can become a factor of accentuation of an individual and transform to the category of mental disorders. As a result, a person is likely to come to protective behavior that can be an obstacle to their personal growth. Glossophobia may generate new emotional problems causing aspiration to go away from the reality and relocate to the artificial world of simplification.

Therefore, it is extremely important to find the symptoms of the fear of public speaking, analyze its reasons, give a true assessment and take actions of psychological correction.

Psychologists point out that moderate percentage of speech anxiety has its advantages. Awaiting the responsible event, a person becomes more careful, energetic and, as a result, performs well.

The fear of public speaking: symptoms

A boy afraid of public speaking


The most common manifestations of speech anxiety are:

  • Increased muscle tension
  • Gesticulation and mimics changes
  • The change in the tone of voice
  • Excessive sweating, palpitations, changes in blood pressure
  • Headaches

The attacks of glossophobia can be accompanied by:

  • Dry mouth
  • Voice tremor
  • Loss of speech

In rare cases, it may lead to fainting if a person experiences increased nervous excitability.

The main causes of glossophobia are:

  • Genetic predisposition. Many psychologists associate the fear of public speaking with orders that existed in the primitive community when a human was a part of a tribe and their actions were seen through the filter of social promotion. Very often the fear of fail or negative feedback not only makes a person call off an idea but can be the main cause of speech anxiety.
  • Social factors are the most significant sources of glossophobia. Upbringing is a basis of the fear in most cases. Every day we can see how parents forbid their children to speak loudly or yell in public places. As a result, when a kid or teenager grows up, they suffer from sweating, voice tremor and other symptoms while speaking in public. Very often negative childhood experience can be fixed at school or at university when a reporter is criticized by teachers or students.
  • Excessive sensitivity to criticism and internal censorship generating submissiveness.
  • Distortion of the force of stress factors.
  • Some people suffer from the fear of public speaking because of the lack of experience. Someone must have had not the best contact with a big audience in the past. Others just avoid speaking in public – this is the reason why it’s so difficult for them to become an active part of our society.

The fear of public speaking can manifest itself due to the lack of confidence connected with insufficient preparation or the absence of necessary knowledge. For the vast majority of people speaking in public is complicated due to the lack of essential experience.

A probable cause of glossophobia is the aspiration for perfection. Quite often the fear of public speaking emerges in perfectionists seeking the ideal.


How to overcome glossophobia before the speech:

A young man learns to get rid of speech anxiety

First of all, good analyzing should be done. In most cases, the fear of public speaking is a combination of a few phobias. The fear of the unknown also plays very important role in forming negative influence. In order to get rid of it, the speaker needs to find out in advance where they’ll have to demonstrate their oratory skills and what kind of professionals will be listening. Try to analyze as much as possible: how many people are going to listen to the report and what they are expecting from it. But you should remember that overcoming the fear of public speaking is linked inseparably with awareness. The speech should be built focusing on average intelligence. There is no sense in forming complex logical ties and use professional slang if the listeners are not professionals. Furthermore, all words that are not clear should be avoided.

After you finish writing materials for the speech, think about the questions that can be asked by listeners.

It is advisable to read your speech to a familiar person because they can reveal all the disadvantages and ask questions.

It would be perfect if the speaker has friends and other people who they can trust. Asking for help may boost confidence.

But a speechmaker should not underestimate the importance of the nonverbal part of the speech. Around 60% of all information everyone gets exactly from nonverbal sources. When words can be interpreted incorrectly, gestures subconsciously will be understood right. The appearance of the speaker, the distance, the quality of their voice, the manner of narration, mimics, and intonation relate to the nonverbal part.

How to overcome the fear during the speech:

A young woman has overcome the fear of public speaking

We are all merely human. Everyone can be worried sometimes. This fact should be accepted and the speechmaker will feel relief. However, the tuning to the achievement of a positive result must be in priority.

But there is no need to improvise if you are not a professional speaker. Not everyone has a skill of extricating oneself from difficult situations. It is better to say banality answering the questions. It will be hidden in general background.

Also one of the most effective ways of overcoming the fear of public speaking is to imagine listeners as fluffy rabbits or think of something good. But these suggestions given by professional speechmakers can be efficient only for people who don’t have strong fear.

Experience is the best key to becoming a good speaker. Proposing toasts can be a start point. After that practice loud speech in public places. This helps to overcome the fear of negative reaction. Get some confidence! Start to act at work!

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