It doesn’t matter who you are or what line of work you’re in, there may be a time when you’re asked or required to speak in front of others or a large group of people. There are some jobs and roles where it might be a common occurrence and this may cause you to be constantly anxious. Public speaking isn’t easy for some and it may even cause you intense fear and anxiety just thinking about doing so.
This is where public speaking phobia comes into play. In fact, you’re not alone and it’s quite a common phobia that many people have these days. Here we’ll dive deeper into what glossophobia is, the symptoms and causes, as well as some possible treatment options and tips for managing this phobia.
What is Glossophobia?
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking and it can range from being nervous at the thought of public speaking to experiencing very intense fear and full-on panic about the idea of public speaking. When it comes to situational fears among people and the population, it’s by far the most common.
It may not only cause anxiety and fear but can also hinder your daily life, especially if you’re going to be speaking in front of others at school or work. Public speaking nervousness is real and can take a toll on your health and confidence over time if you fail to address it and find a treatment plan that works for you.
Glossophobia is the official term that is used to define the fear of public speaking. It may also involve the fear of interacting and talking in small groups. You might hear it referred to as public speaking anxiety as well. It’s categorised as a social phobia which means it’s a fear that encompasses a significant and ongoing feeling of social anxiety or performance-based anxiety.
While some public speakers just get butterflies in their stomach, those with glossophobia experience extreme distress about the idea of talking in a group, interacting with others, and public speaking.
There are a variety of symptoms that people experience. It all depends on the severity of the condition. People with glossophobia also experience other social anxieties. There may not only be a major fear of public speaking situations but also of avoiding talking in front of an audience or even making small talk.
The symptoms can arise before, during, or after any type of social situation. It can be avoiding group conversations, eating with others, worrying about doing something embarrassing, avoiding eye contact, or worrying about being criticised or judged, for example. Anyone with a social phobia is more likely to also experience depression and anxiety than the general public.
These are symptoms such as sweats, dry mouth, chills, feeling short of breath, an urgency to go to the bathroom, upset stomach, confusion, or feeling disoriented.
Causes of Glossophobia
Biological Factors: Genetics may be to blame for glossophobia since some people are born naturally shy and find it challenging to navigate social situations. You may have had a shy temperament your entire life, for instance.
Learned Behaviour: There may also be an influence of learned behaviour as another possible cause for glossophobia. You might have a parent who is also shy or who avoids social situations and you may then view these situations as upsetting as well. In this case,
Past Experiences: You might have had negative past experiences that now make you feel even shyer to interact with others or speak in public. It’s possible you’ve been humiliated or criticised previously and so you are now not comfortable being in social situations. You may have also been bullied which can influence your desire to participate in public speaking situations.
Glossophobia and Social Anxiety
Essentially, glossophobia is a social anxiety disorder and is defined as a social phobia. This type of anxiety disorder goes beyond feeling nervous or worrying. Instead, strong fears arise that are out of proportion to what you’re thinking about or experiencing. Keep in mind it can vary from person to person whether you feel a bit nervous about public speaking or you panic and freeze up.
Generally speaking, if you have a social anxiety disorder then public speaking tends to be feared a lot more intensely and more frequently than those who don’t have social anxiety. The fear of public speaking is often present in those who have a social anxiety disorder.
A mental health professional would need to first diagnose a person with a social anxiety disorder by performing a psychological exam.
Some websites even provide glossophobia tests, or social anxiety tests that might help point you towards relevant relaxation techniques to help you overcome your fear. They may also look for physical symptoms by checking hormones, vitamins, and blood levels.
Treatment for Glossophobia
The good news is that there are treatment options for overcoming glossophobia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy cbt is one of the most effective ways to treat the fear of public speaking. Another glossophobia therapy is exposure therapy.
In most cases, medication will not be used to treat this type of social anxiety disorder. On the other hand, medication might be used to treat some of the physical symptoms that may be present such as intense anxiety.
Tips for Gaining Confidence in Public Speaking
If you have to deliver a speech in front of a group of other people you may feel nervous right away. It’s therefore important that you cope as much as possible so you can gain confidence in public speaking.
There are some tips and strategies that tend to work well if you’re required or asked to speak in front of an audience. One idea is to open up your speech with a discussion question to get the audience engaged and talking. It’ll take some of the pressure off of you.
Remind yourself that audience members are there to learn and that it’s about the topic at hand. They’re not as focused on you as they are on what you’re saying. Boost your confidence by trying your best to make eye contact with the individuals to whom you’re speaking to.
In the instance that you’re giving a formal presentation to a group of people then rehearse and practise your speech as much as possible beforehand. Calm your nerves by practising in front of a friend or family member or in the actual space where you’ll be giving the speech.
Take deep breaths. Experiment and play around with a mix of different ways to calm your nerves and see what works well for you. There are also online games and apps such as glossophobia roblox that you can play so you can practise and then apply what you learn in real life.
Celebrities are not immune
Celebrities such as New Zealand singer songwriter Lorde, The Weeknd, Kate Bush have been open about their stage fright. So you are not alone in your experience of public speaking fear!
If the above resonate with you then it may be time to take charge and reach out for help and guidance.