"what is public speaking anxiety"Public speaking anxiety, also known as speech anxiety or glossophobia, is the fear of public speaking. Individuals who are dealing with this problem are afraid of being criticized or evaluated by others. This fear is often accompanied by physical and emotional reactions that can interfere with your ability to deliver a speech. These symptoms include sweating shaking, dizziness, anxiety, and trembling.

Common Causes of Speech Anxiety

Most people experience speech anxiety when they have to speak in public. There are several factors that may contribute to public speaking fear, including:

  • Past failures
  • Concern that others are judging you
  • Self-consciousness in front of large groups.
  • Poor preparation
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Negative self-talk
  • Lack of experience
  • Fear of criticism
  • Unfamiliarity
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Self doubts

Researchers have found that most people have the communication skills required for delivering a speech, but they sabotage themselves by engaging in negative self-talk. Some are worried they will make a mistake, while others don’t feel comfortable being the center of attention. Many of those who experience public speaking anxiety have low esteem and tend to focus on what the audience might think about them. Some are afraid that their mind will go blank.

Public Speaking Anxiety Symptoms

When you experience public speaking anxiety, your heart starts to beat rapidly and your breathing rate increases. The blood pressure goes up and digestion is slowed down. Adrenalin is released in the body. Other common symptoms of speech anxiety include:

  • Feelings of panic
  • Nausea
  • Intense fear
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Sweaty palms
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Dilated pupils
  • Acute hearing
  • Increased oxygen intake

Anxious speakers can experience physical, verbal, and non-verbal symptoms. It is estimated that more 75 percent of people experience some degree of anxiety when speaking in public. Speech anxiety may interfere with your career – such as turning down promotions or changing jobs to avoid public speaking obligations. The key to success in reducing speech anxiety is practice.

How to Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety

There are several things you can do to relax and overcome the fear of speaking in public. Deep muscle relaxation and breathing exercises may help. You can also join organizations like POWERtalk International and Toastmasters to familiarize yourself with public speaking.

Practice your speech over and over again. Choose topics that you are interested in. Try to integrate visual aids and body language into your speech. Keep in mind that some anxiety is normal, so don’t expect that the symptoms will completely disappear.

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