Public speaking phobia, also known as speech anxiety or glossophobia, affects most people at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common fears. Statistics show that over 85 percent of people feel uncomfortable speaking in front of large crowds. Even professional speakers experience anxiety before giving a presentation. For example, the famous actor Sir Lawrence Olivier suffered from extreme stage fright. The good news is that public speaking phobia can be successfully managed through practice and persistence.
Public Speaking Phobia Symptoms
The fear of public speaking can range from a mild feeling of anxiety and nervousness to body tremors, irregular heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and cold chills. The symptoms associated with public speaking phobia vary from one person to another. Most people experience:
• Butterflies in the stomach
• Dry mouth
• Feelings of panic
• Increased blood pressure
• Muscle tension
• Shortness of breath
• Sweaty palms
• A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety
• Panic attacks
• Shaking voice
• Involuntary prolongation of sounds
• Social avoidance behavior
Public speaking phobia is usually caused by negative events or trauma that occurred during childhood or adulthood. The speaker constantly seeks approval, or has low self esteem. The fear of public speaking increases the symptoms, which in turn increase the fear. This leads to severe anxiety and panic attacks. Talking fluently to others is a highly valued skill that can improve both your personal and professional life. Therefore, it’s important that you learn to control this fear and overcome speech anxiety.
Public Speaking Phobia: Can You Really Overcome This Fear?
The key to overcoming public speaking phobia is to practice your speech and approach the audience with the objective of communicating a point. Try to speak as you would do in casual conversation. Don’t read or memorize your speech. Talk to one person at a time. Accept every invitation to speak in public. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and connect with the audience.
Learn to accept that you’ll always be a little nervous before giving a presentation. There’s nothing wrong with that. Find topics that you are passionate about, and then come up with fresh ideas for your speech. The better you know the subject, the more interest you have in it. If you try to memorize your speech, you’ll go blank, forget a word or sentence, and panic. Know what ideas you want to get across and learn to express them clearly. Remember ideas, not words or phrases.