Fear Of Public Speaking (Glossophobia): How It Happens And How To Overcome It?

04/27/2018

We've all been there - standing in front of a huge (or not so huge) crowd and not being able to blurb even a word. No matter how knowledgeable, confident or skillful you are, communicating your ideas clearly and presenting them openly in a public forum is not an easy task.

The fear of public speaking (also known as glossophobia) is what made even the best public speakers helpless in front of the public one or many times. Fortunately, being a good public speaker is something that can be learned, and something that can help you promote ideas and move people to take action on issues that affect them directly.

Below, we are talking more about this fear (and how to overcome it).

Why Are We Scared Of Public Speaking?

Fear of public speaking is frequently - and incorrectly - cited as people's biggest fear. The truth is, there are many other things that people are really scared of. Nonetheless, fear of public speaking is very common with about 25% percent of people experiencing it.

Even the mildest form of glossophobia can have devastating effects. It can prevent you from taking risks to share ideas, speak about your work or present your solutions to problems affecting many people. As a result, it can affect your personal and professional growth.

According to research, the main reason why this form of fear happens include:

  • Physiology - Our autonomous nervous system is aroused in response to a potentially threatening stimulus.
  • Thoughts - Our personal beliefs about public speaking and ourselves as speakers are also something that moves the fear through.
  • Situations - There are certain situations that are likely to make most of us anxious when presenting in front of the public (life situations, lack of experience, new ideas, status differences and new audiences).
  • Skills - The last factor that contributes to the fear of public speaking is how skilled one is in the area.

The next logical question after knowing the factors behind public speaking fear - is how to conquer it. Below, we are talking more about it.

How To Overcome The Fear Of Public Speaking?

It's needless to say that everyone wants to be a great public speaker. Giving a speech or presentation is something that can also boost your confidence and give you more authority in front of the public.

However, the reality is less than perfect. When the fears, thoughts, situations and (lack of) skills kick in, it is hard to interpret even the simplest thing. In cases like these, the best solutions to overcoming the fear of public speaking is to:

  • Always be prepared. Even though it sounds obvious, the first step to quieting these fears is being prepared. In practice, this translates to knowing your material well so that you don't have to think about it - or making sure all the logistics are set well before you go out on stage.
  • Be real. There are fears that are real - and fears that aren't. If you have a massive presentation and only 20 minutes on the clock, your fear of running out of time is real. However, the chance that someone will 'boo' you while you talk is a fear that is not-so-real. Make sure to be realistic about your fears and focus only on the real ones.
  • Be vulnerable. Confidence can prevent anything from getting to us. However, the truth is that our vulnerability can be our biggest strength. Therefore, the best way to connect with an audience is by simple being human - having flaws and making mistakes. The more connected you are to what you have to say, the more connected your audience will be, too.
  • Be present. When presenting in front of an audience, it is important to be present physically and mentally. Aside from your body language, your audience will follow your thoughts and feelings. Taking a deep breath, focusing or even meditating in your free time can help you achieve this.
  • Be generous. Behind every talk, there is a reason. Your audience is there listening to you because you have to give them something. The message you want your audience to walk away with is what measures your generosity.

A Final Word

At this point, it is safe to say that the best way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to do it together. Find people who can help you feel that way and guide you to your domination on stage. Help each other to be prepared, real, vulnerable, present and generous - and bring out each other's gifts.

In the end, we all have something to give. Speaking is only an opportunity to give it.