The fear of public speaking is one of the most common conditions that affects 4 out of 10 people. This fear may have developed in an individual because of a previous experience where the speaker’s presentation/speech may not have been received well. Other reasons include a history of having been misjudged, rejected, or embarrassed during any event in early life.
Some incidents like failure to deliver a presentation in front of a classroom may not have appeared intense at the time when it happened but can have fatal long-term implications. For some, it is an in-built personality trait. It is common for children who have not been exposed to social situations or large crowds to develop a fear of public speaking. Small incidents could trigger severe trauma and distress.
What is the fear of public speaking?
The fear of public speaking refers to a form of anxiety, uneasiness, and mental discomfort that occurs while speaking aloud in front of others in a group situation.
Fear of public speaking is a common phobia that can range from mild nervousness to moderate anxiousness and even to severe form of fear or panic attacks. This fear triggers feelings of extreme discomfort, mental irritation and embarrassment in social situations. Thus, fear of public speaking is also associated with social anxiety disorder.
People who possess this fear often avoid speaking in public places that involve a lot of people. They remain quiet and do not voice their opinion in front of others. These individuals always fear being watched, and ridiculed by others. Fear of public speaking makes the person extremely nervous and terrified; and as such they never take risks to share their views with others. It is often said that most people rate this fear more than the fear of death.
Glossophobia is the scientific name for the fear of public speaking. It is commonly known as speech anxiety.
The word glossophobia comes from a Greek word ‘glosso’ meaning tongue and ‘phobos’ means fear or dread. Thus, together it means fear of talking or fear of delivering a speech in front of an audience. This phobia is marked by an intense level of anxiety and worry in saying things or voicing opinions and views in public places.
If you suffer from glossophobia, you will try to avoid public speaking altogether. You may be feeling nervous and emotionally restless marked by physiological symptoms of stammering, shaky hands, sweating, palpitation, quavering tone and a red face.
In most of the times, glossophobia are strong fears that lead to avoidance of public places. You may avoid being a focus of attention because a mere thought of speaking in public can leave you frozen with worries and extreme nervousness.
Symptoms of Glossophobia
The anxiety associated with public speaking can be accompanied by a number of physical and emotional symptoms.
For those affected, speaking in front of a small or a large group could trigger glossophobia. The symptoms can either be physical or emotional. The physical symptoms include
- stomach knots
- rapid heartbeat
- muscle tension
- dry mouth
- hot or cold flushes
- vomiting or nausea
- frequent urination
- dilation of pupils
- increased blood pressure
The emotional symptoms could either be verbal or non-verbal. The verbal symptoms include-
- stumbling over words
- voice modulation
- repetition of words
The non-verbal symptoms include –
- Panic attacks
- Constant fear
What causes the fear of public speaking?
The primary reason for these common fears are an inherent apprehension of being judged, ridiculed, or negative evaluation by others. It is a perceived fear that arises from an expectation of being perfect and socially fit in public setups.
Most phobias arise due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological reasons. The fear of public speaking may start in late childhood or early adulthood due to deepest insecurities, poor self-worth, lack of confidence, fear of rejection and social embarrassment.
If you ever had a bad experience of public speaking in one situation, it may evoke lack of confidence and fear in other situations as well. If, by chance you are told to speak few lines in a room filled with people and it doesn’t go up to the mark, that fear of ridicule and embarrassment may remain and get reflected in other similar situations in future.
Now let’s analyze the 10 probable causes of fear of public speaking
1. Undue awareness of self
This is one of the primary reasons for fear of public speaking. You become self-conscious about your abilities in front of others. The fear of not being able to achieve perfection works within you. Thus in large groups, when people’s eyes are on, you fear of getting rejected and humiliated. You fear what others will think about you if you are not perfect in your big presentation. A performance anxiety appears in the scene and makes you vulnerable to anxiety and fear.
2. Past failures
The strong fear of public speaking may arise due to past failures and criticisms that you must have faced. If you were judged negatively in previous situations, it remains with you and will remind you of the unfavorable incident every time you come across similar life situations. Thus, it becomes a learned behavior. Your self-doubt and lack of confidence may result in more fear and anxiousness.
3. Appearing nervous
At times, your body language and stance may appear nervous and anxious. This gets portrayed while you are up to deliver a speech or say something in social setups. You may fear that others are watching you that add to more discomfort. The fear of speaking becomes apparent when you look anxious, tensed, and fearful in social settings. This nervousness comes from a lack of confidence and the fear of judgements and criticisms, if everything doesn’t work well.
4. Insufficient homework
Another reason for public speaking anxiety can be due to lack of adequate preparation and homework. If your preparation is not full proof; you may fail on the ‘big day’. It will undermine your confidence level. Lack of preparation leads to fear of being evaluated or judged by others. This social embarrassment reinforces the fear response and you become more jittery and anxious every time you face such similar situations.
5. Poor self worth
If you are not confident about your abilities, you will fail in overcoming the fear of public speaking. Poor speaking skills lower your self-worth; so it needs practice to become good and better. Your feelings of inadequacy and poor self-worth act as a barrier towards further improvement.
6. Poor body language
A powerful and positive body language with the right attitude is needed to overcome fear of public speaking. If you are self conscious and feel awkward in front of a large group of people, your fear will only aggravate. You need to notice the way you stand or sit in public places because these simple bodily gestures speak on your behalf. Poor eye contact, inappropriate hand gestures can also lead to stage fright.
7. Comparison with others
When you start comparing yourself with others, you become insecure and inadequate from within. This leads to the expectation of becoming a perfect speaker. But truly speaking, perfection is a myth. You are good enough to deliver your best lecture. There is no need to feel inadequate as people have come to hear you.
Be confident and never compare yourself with others. Your job is to make the presentation as interesting and engaging as possible. It is not about being ‘excellent’ or ‘perfect’ by any means. Nobody wants it from you as well. Comparison with others will push you towards unnecessary worries and will hamper your performance.
8. Foolish mistakes that messed up things
Your previous experiences of making foolish mistakes in speaking situations may aggravate the fear in some other similar situations. These silly mistakes can be loss of words or stammering due to not finding the right text to continue speaking. It can be mispronunciation, forgetting to say a word, poor vocabulary, inappropriate maneuvers etc. All these factors lead to speech inadequacy and fear significantly.
This is one of the main reasons for fear of public speaking. It can cause physical symptoms of dry mouth, cold hands, shivering in parts of your body etc. If you forget what to say next, it means that your mind goes blank momentarily. It leads to social embarrassment because you fear being judged and criticized. You may look odd and stupid to speak in public. To avoid this, try to remember only the key points of the presentation and elaborate on it whenever needed. This reduces forgetting and you appear confident to speak in front of a group.
10. Elements of contradiction
The elements of contradiction may appear when your viewpoint gets disputed by others. People may have varying opinions. If they say something different that doesn’t mingle with your opinions, you may become anxious-prone and feel tense. You may consider it as a personal attack and develop more fear out of it. If you cannot defend yourself, you may suffer endless.
Public speaking anxiety
It is another name given to glossophobia. As it is a social phobia or social anxiety disorder, it manifests itself in social gatherings, usually in large groups. Speaking in front of a group may feel extremely uncomfortable and people experience the following main signs.
- Dryness of mouth
- incoherent and clumsy speech
- body gestures that appear tensed
- squeaky voice
- sweating, often excessive
Sometimes, public speaking anxiety paralyzes you and can upset your mental well being completely. You may look disorganized with specific worries taking away your happiness and peace of mind. Public speaking anxiety often causes ‘brain freeze’ resulting in ‘stage fright’.
When the brain freezes, it means moments of silence due to not knowing what follows next. It simply means a pause, when you do not know what to say. Your mind goes blank and you become more stressed. This adds to more threats to your psychological safety.
You may feel threatened, abused, upset, and completely bewildered. When you develop intense anxiety symptoms in public places and it affects your life and living, it is considered as a social anxiety disorder.
Self help tips to manage public speaking anxiety
Few self-help tips may help you to reduce stress levels and overcome your fear that you might be experiencing. Such as-
- Choose the topic of conversation that you know the best. It should be interesting for the audience as well. It makes the delivery of speech free-flowing, devoid of mistakes.
- Do enough homework as practice makes perfect. This reduces your undue worries and nervousness.
- Never try to be perfect because it is not needed. You will have to deliver your speech as best as possible.
- Avoid doing self-evaluations. It makes you critical of yourself and lowers your confidence.
- Practice aloud and this will help to know your mistakes. You can rectify and mend things beforehand.
- Try to develop good eye contact and wear a smile whenever you talk to people. This shows that you are relaxed and easy-going with the presentation. It makes you friendly and approachable in front of the audience.
- Connect with your audience and seek feedback from time to time. This helps to build a good rapport with the people you are addressing.
- Practice breathing techniques such as proper inhaling and exhaling, and various other relaxation exercises to feel fresh and agile.
- Continuously remind yourself that you are well prepared and you can do it. Have enough trust in your abilities. It develops a positive mindset that overcomes anxiety.
- ‘Be present’ and pay attention to the moment you are in. do not overthink and move with the flow of time. It reduces anxiousness and improves performance.
Phobia of public speaking – negative effects
‘Stagefright’, commonly known as a phobia of public speaking can have far-reaching consequences on your social skills and mental health. Few negative effects that arise out of the fear response are:
- Feelings of mental uneasiness, discomfort, and anxiety
- It has a negative influence on performance and goal setting
- Too much anxiety makes the person vulnerable to mental distress and nervous breakdown
- It can hamper your ability to further goals and career opportunities
- You may develop symptoms of shyness and social isolation
- Fear of public speaking can contribute to poor self-esteem
- You may feel depressed and lonely in social gatherings
- People may judge you negatively. It can further lower your social dignity and regard
- You may suffer from recurrent forgetting due to intense anxiety and unnecessary worry
- Glossophobia results in a fight or flight response. The symptoms include increased blood pressure and heart rate, coupled with excessive sweating, imbalanced gait, and overall discomfort.
How not to be nervous?
Nervousness is a common phenomena that occurs when you are in a new situation that is meant to test your worth and capability on certain aspects of life. Nervousness is a generalized symptom associated with anxiety disorders and glossophobia is not an exception to this.
Sometimes nervousness can be a passing worry that goes away with time, but if it stays and you live in a state of fear and uncontrolled worry, it becomes an anxiety. It disrupts normal life and living.
There are a few ways by which you can overcome nervousness and live life happily.
1. Practice deep breathing
Slow deep breaths releases stress and worries. So avoid shallow and irregular breathing and start practicing a relaxed breathing pattern whenever you feel nervous or jittery. It helps you to tackle stressful and nerve racking situations in a better way.
2. Do not admit nervousness
Think positive and focus your attention on positive outcomes and visualize success that you have attained. When you acknowledge your worth, you feel good and your confidence level goes high. You seem to appear less nervous. Remind yourself that life is good enough and whatever happens, you can do it. Never admit your nervousness because it stops you from being confident. Talk positively about yourself. It slowly reduces the physical symptoms of nervousness and makes you feel better.
3. Regular exercise
Your secret to good mental health is having a healthy body. Meditation and yoga help a lot in regulating emotions. Thus, to reduce nervousness while talking to others, you need to exercise regularly. It helps to relax and calm down in stressful situations. Moreover, it relaxes the tight muscles and makes you feel comfortable. You need to relax your face muscles as well so that you need not appear frowning, tensed, or worried.
4. Be yourself
You just need to be in your comfortable ‘self’. It means that you are good enough with ‘who you are’. It also means to be easy going and keep moving with the flow of time. Your nervousness can subside only when you stop having too many expectations from yourself. In social situations, do not push yourself hard to become perfect. Just allow your speech to flow naturally and then you’ll find yourself in a much more relaxed state of mind.
5. Focus on positive things
Before a public speaking event, many people develop symptoms of extreme fear and worry, only because they focus on what can go wrong. Instead you should focus on your positive qualities. You will be comfortable when you are well prepared. Remind yourself of the small accomplishments that you have attained.
Work on your confidence level by showing trust in your abilities. You can even have a session of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) from a trained psychotherapist or seek medical advice from them to eliminate faulty perspectives and keep a check on your emotional responses. It will boost your confidence and morale; eventually lowering the nervousness.
6. Pause and smile
Most of the public speaking fear comes from a state of mental discomfort. Thus, to reduce this discomfort it is important to slow down and take a pause whenever needed. Being nervous is not a problem; it’s just about how well you manage your queasy responses and remain in a peaceful state of mind. During the presentation, take a small speech pause and smile at the audience.
You can utilize this time to organize your flow of thought and come up with new ideas about what to talk about next. This makes you mentally relaxed and physically agile. Smiling gives you positive energy and helps to connect with the audience.
7. Music therapy
Music helps to reduce nervousness and calms down your overthinking mind. Slow music helps you to relax and fine-tunes your body and mind towards positive thinking. Music is cathartic, as it allows a vent to your negative feelings that cause mental uneasiness. It also stops you from worrying the worst.
8. Know the reason
You can only reduce nervousness when you know the reason for the discomfort. You need to find out the relevant causes of your nervousness. What can happen if something goes wrong while you speak?
Try to identify the source of your worry and once done, work on shifting your thoughts and rationally analyze the situation that evokes the fear element. When you confront your nervous jitters, it reduces the fear and irrational worry associated with it. Remind yourself that even the worst failures can teach you great lessons for a lifetime.
How to Get Over Fear of Public Speaking?
There are numerous ways of overcoming your fear. They can either be self-practiced or you can seek professional help.
Here are some 30 practical ways to overcome the fear of public speaking:
1. Recognize your fear
The fear of public speaking is real and common. Fear sees pain and failure. It does not allow you to do anything new or unknown. It makes you build a boundary wall around you and consumes you. The first step toward eliminating the fear of public speaking is to know that it is extremely common and accept that you have it. This will help you figure out an action plan to overcome it.
Fear makes you react in numerous ways. Stepping back to analyze the result of your reaction is important. You must try to eliminate the fear of rejection by trusting your instincts. Mental Emotional Release therapy can also help you release stress, anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions.
2. Organize yourself
Simplify the process and do one thing at a time. Taking control of the time and priorities in life helps you organize yourself. You must understand that delegating things will help you concentrate on the important stuff. Find your corner of peace where you can reflect on your thoughts and speech.
When your thoughts and speech are organized well, it tends to reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Avoid last-minute changes to your speech. Having said that, we know sometimes change is inevitable, so be ready to adapt and embrace unforeseen last-minute glitches.
3. Practice and Prepare in advance
We know that practice makes you perfect. Practice helps in reducing repetitive mistakes and errors. With patience and dedication, practice will enhance your knowledge and expertise. Practicing the same thing repeatedly will help in boosting your confidence. Therefore, prepare well before delivering. Do not leave anything for the last moment.
4. Practice in front of a mirror
This is a really good practice to eliminate fear as you pretend to deliver a speech to the audience. When you look in the mirror, you can focus on your facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language. This will help you make eye contact with the audience while delivering your speech. Our subconscious is very susceptible to the things we say out loud. We are our own critic. Therefore, this technique is very useful for driving away your fears. Adolf Hitler, one of the most influential speakers of all time had the habit of practicing in front of the mirror.
5. Use audio aids
Record your speech before delivering it. Observe it objectively and make modifications where required. This will give you actionable insight. You will be able you correct your tone and grammatical errors. It will also help you in knowing where voice modulation is required. Every subject needs a different tone. For example, you cannot use the same tone while delivering a comedy speech and narrating a tragic event.
6. Exercise and practice breathing
This helps to calm your mind and get clarity. It will reduce your stress levels. Breathing helps you get into the rhythm. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing deeply through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and then forcefully releasing the breath through your mouth for 8 seconds. This technique has been proved to reduce anxiety levels considerably.
7. Practice in front of another person or group
Performing in front of friends, family, or known associates before speaking to the actual audience helps you get hands-on experience. You may ask them to review your performance. You may also have a brief one-on-one question and answer session with them. This will help you get insight into their reactions and you can adapt your speech based on their interests, level of understanding and beliefs.
8. Dress well and wear a smile
This is a very important part of public speaking. People usually judge you based on how you dress. It is not necessary to wear expensive clothes; wear something that is comfortable and suits the occasion. The way you look outside influences the way you feel inside. Dressing well will help you make a great first impression on your audience and command attention and respect.
Smile is an integral part of your overall persona. No matter how nervous you may be, always wear a smile. It makes you look more attractive, relieves unnecessary stress, and elevates your mood. A smile will help you get a more positive response from the audience.
9. Know your audience
When you are speaking, you want the listeners to understand and benefit from it. It is very important to know the type of audience you are going to address. Some of the parameters could be the age group of the audience, their education level, and the languages that they know. Do a thorough audience analysis to avoid offending anyone with your comments. The speech should appeal to the audience to keep them engaged. Successful public speaking involves audience participation. Therefore, make your speech interactive.
10. Pick a subject you know
Sometimes during audience interactions, you may have to face questions that may be irrelevant. You must not panic. Just focus on giving the answer in a way that helps the audience connect to the subject well. Also, never memorize your speech. As the famous Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand”. So, you must do a lot of research and read on the subject. This will boost your confidence.
11. Use creative visualization
The use of visual aids helps enable an in-depth understanding of the subject. Several studies have shown that the human brain has the power to decipher visual images faster than verbal communications.
Powerpoint presentations are a fantastic way of engaging audiences and reducing panic if you lose track of your thoughts. Sometimes, based on the subject, you can use actual objects or models while delivering your speech. Photographs, maps, and sketches are also effective visual tools. For comparing data, you can use diagrams, tables, or pie charts. These help in simplifying the contents of the subject. Also, it is easier for people to take notes when facts are presented as numbers or percentages.
12. Watch your tone and speed
It is necessary to watch your tone while speaking to a crowd. Make sure you are subtle and that your tone reflects your personality. The audience should not feel that you are trying to impose your opinions on them. People tend to be more attentive and receptive to compassionate speakers. The tone of your voice is not just about how you speak but also about what you speak. Talking too fast is also not advisable because it can make you breathless. Practice slowing down; it will also help you remain calm and composed.
13. Seek professional help
There are many great classes that teach you how to speak in public. They provide you with training videos and books that will build your confidence. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment that helps you manage your problems by influencing your thoughts and behavior. It is used to treat a lot of disorders, including any phobias or anxiety related to it. A lot of people use this therapy to get over their fear of public speaking.
14. Gauge the audience’s reaction
If the audience is not attentive or interactive, don’t assume that your speech is bad and get disheartened. Try engaging your public with questions, puzzles, or a story. Make peace with the fact that you cannot please 100% of the audience with your speech. Allow yourself to be human and make errors. Pick the positives, work on the learnings from the experience, and turn it around the next time!
15. Don’t fear moments of silence
It is normal to occasionally blank out while talking. When this happens, take a moment, breathe, drink water, and resume. Brief pauses are a part of great speeches. The audience too needs time to process what they have heard. Pauses sometimes help you convey emotions and help you control the pace of your delivery.
16. Turn off the lights
Some people can find it easier to deliver their speeches or presentations in a dimly lit space. It helps them conceal their nervousness. However, most speakers avoid using this technique as dim lighting affects memory and learning. Also, a lot of speakers want to play off the audience’s reaction as it helps them maintain a rapport, and this is not possible when the room is not lit well.
17. Begin your speech with “I’m really nervous”
Many people start their speech with “I’m really nervous to give this speech” or “I am not a great public speaker but I will try my best”. These lines release inner tension of the person and make him /her feel comfortable in front of the audience. When you say so, you give yourself enough room for not being perfect. This reduces anxiety and keeps you focused on the content of the speech to be delivered. It’s all about being easy and not letting your anxiousness spoil your flow of thought.
18. Avoid talking fast
If you are too fast in delivering the speech, your listeners may not relate with it. You need to slow down and take intermittent pause to make the presentation properly understood by the audience. On the other hand, when you talk slowly, you give yourself enough time to think and organize the content properly before presenting it. It helps you to relax and replenish your breath and start afresh. This reduces the fear of speaking and makes you more agile and confident.
19. Do not over think
This is one of the best ways to overcome glossophobia. You should avoid over thinking because it puts you in a whirlpool of negative thoughts from where escape becomes difficult. Move with the flow of your thoughts and gladly accept what happens next. If you think too much, you are pushing yourself hard towards perfection that will only evoke more fear and insecurity in you.
20. Do not memorize the speech content
Avoid memorizing the content to be delivered on stage. It leads to tension; if you forget what to say next. The best way is to focus on a few keywords, summary, and notes and elaborate them accordingly. You can practice these in front of the mirror beforehand to gain confidence. Do not try to learn word by word. You should jot down the important points only.
21. Prepare possible questions
A smart public speaker always prepares the probable questions that the audience members may ask. This is a good practice to eliminate the fear element working within. If you are prepared, you know what to say and how to say. It also helps to defend your point of view, in case of contradictions from the audience side. This boosts morale and lowers the fear quotient significantly.
22. Be on time
It is important to be punctual and reach the venue on time. The last minute rush can make you nervous and anxious. So, avoid doing such a thing and keep yourself focused and relaxed. If you reach the venue on time, you get enough time to settle down and know the place well before you start. It is also a kind of exposure therapy that makes you familiar with the stage and the venue. As said, familiarity reduces stress and makes you comfortable and calm.
23. Challenge your beliefs and develop a positive mindset
It is important to develop a positive mindset and challenge your faulty perspectives to overcome anxiety. To reduce the fear of public speaking, focus your mind on your strengths only, forget the weaknesses, and never try to be perfect. Remind yourself that it is okay not to become perfect in everything. Ease, relax, and develop an attitude that speaks positivity. Challenge your faulty beliefs and negative attitudes that can hold you back to deliver your best.
24. Focus on communication and audience interaction
A blank talk show may appear monotonous to the audience. Thus, to keep the speech flow interesting, you need to take intermittent pause and focus on audience engagement and interactions. Appreciate feedback, when given. Make your speech as interactive as possible. It makes the public speaking event interesting and reduces your nervousness as well.
25. Prepare for the worst
Ask yourself what will happen if things do not go according to the expectation. Here, you are mentally preparing yourself to face the worst situation. Remind yourself that the bad outcome will be a new learning to overcome your shortcomings and become successful the next time. When you are mentally prepared to face the worst outcome, it reduces the anxiousness and you can control it in a better way.
26. Use extra shares and props
To make your speech or presentation more interesting, you can use props, audio and visual aids or templates to put your message across to the audience. In this way, the audience will be better connected with whatever you are saying. Apart from this, it makes the public speaking session more interesting. You can use PowerPoint tutorials or Google slide tutorials to explain things to the audience. Even an engaging video and Q and A sessions may also help.
27. Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations help to develop self-esteem and confidence. It helps to change your thought pattern by developing a positive outlook. When your outlook becomes positive, you feel confident. Positive affirmations are positive statements that you can say to yourself to reduce anxiety symptoms and thereby overcoming your fear.
28. Watch others and learn from them
If you are afraid of speaking in public, watch others speak in similar situations. You will get an idea of how to keep the flow of speech smooth, ways to engage the audience and how to keep a friendly face and positive demeanor while speaking. To reduce your fear, you can learn these skills by seeing other public speakers. Observe the speaker and develop your eloquence and body language. This brings finesse in your performance.
29. Speech training
You can even join public speaking groups for speech training and tone modulation. You can learn gestures to engage with the audience. This training helps to build your public speaking skills. You can focus on the key areas that need improvement. In doing so, you will know the nitty gritty of a good delivered speech. Apart from this, this training helps to overcome the fear because you will be taught how to deal with anxiousness, if any.
30. Future performance
After completion of a public speaking session, think of the various ways to become better the next time. You may not be satisfied with your performance, but you can sharpen your skills anytime. Work on the deficit areas to become more confident and improve future performance.
Examples of great people who overcame the fear of public speaking
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” The most inspiring example of glossophobia is that of the Father of India, Mahatma Gandhi. The man who led the Quit India Movement and drove the Britishers away from our country suffered from severe panic attacks as a schoolboy. “My vision became blurred and I trembled, though the speech hardly covered a sheet of foolscap,” writes Gandhiji.
Even when he became a lawyer and had to face the judge for the first time, he panicked and left the courtroom. The turn-around came when he found a passion that was stronger than his fear of facing people. His desire to see free India was so strong that it helped him overcome his fears.
He wrote, “Be stubborn because you have considered the maximum number of people who will benefit and wish to serve them by solidly banging the drum for what you know to be true.”
Another prime example is from none other than the USA’s stalwart leader and renowned public speaker Abraham Lincoln. After he gave a powerful speech on March 6, 1860, at Cooper Union, an arts and science college based in New York City, he became a much sought-after personality and was invited to address a crowd in New Jersey by a political committee. Lincoln is known to have declined this invitation, clearly citing his nervousness making him unfit to deliver this speech!
Some other great leaders who got nervous when they had to speak in public are Warren Buffet, Thomas Jefferson, and Winston Churchill. They all worked on overcoming their fears and became great orators. Take a leaf from their book; instead of avoiding what scares you, jump right in and tackle it head on. So, instead of thinking of ways to avoid public speaking, learn the ways to tackle this fear. Remember that it is just a state of mind.
Tips to become an effective public speaker
- Start by making small talk or quoting your personal anecdotes.
- Choose topics that reflect your passion.
- Establish common ground with your audience, discuss your shared interests. This will help you connect with them and make you more confident about speaking to them and reaching out effectively.
- When you are out there, focus on how you can influence people positively with your message.
- Relax and breathe to calm yourself.
- Practice often to build your confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Public speaking anxiety is a common phenomenon that triggers fear when speaking in front of the audience. The reasons for fear of public speaking could be one or more. It could be because of a past experience when the speaker was ridiculed or it could be that they have an inborn phobia. This anxiety leads to palpitations, trembling and stammering which then intensifies the embarrassment of the speaker.
The fear of public speaking is called glossophobia. It has come from Greek words. In Greek, glōssa means tongue and phobos means fear. Often the fear of public speaking is also referred to as ‘speech anxiety’.
There can be many reasons for the causes of fear of public speaking. One of the main reasons could be that the person had a bad experience while speaking publicly at some point in their lives. This memory now acts as a hurdle to them. Also, the person might have glossophobia or a phobia to speak in front of public.
In most cases some people have an inborn fear of public speaking or phobia called glossophobia. In other cases, they might have a bad experience in the past. Maybe a teacher or a parent had criticized them as a child when they were speaking. Or maybe some of their peers have mocked them at school. Now this fear has become deep-rooted and acting as a stage fright.
The signs of speech anxiety could be slight to severe! Some of the signs are –
1. The whole body or the hands starts to shake before or while speaking.
2. Mouth becomes extremely dry and voice becomes squeaky.
3. Palpitations starts.
4. Stomach aches or twinges unnecessarily.
5. The person sweats even though the temperature is cool.
Parting words from “TheMindFool”
While it is extremely frightening for someone with a fear of public speaking to see himself/herself on stage, delivering a confident, well-written speech in a friendly yet eloquent manner, one needs to remember that fear is just a thought. It is only in our mind, and with concerted efforts, we can learn to stop scaring ourselves and achieve our goals. Focus on your passion, and success will follow.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.