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Discussing Glossophobia: The Fear of Public Speaking

fear of public speaking was ranked as the second most common fear of Americans/ Photo By vchal via Shutterstock

 

The mere thought of going onstage to present a speech in front of a crowd may cause some people’s minds to go haywire and make them stammer, sweat and tremble. When asked to deliver a presentation, they may clam up and be overwhelmed by nervousness. Soon after, they may find themselves completely forgetting what they were supposed to speak about. Such is the plight of those who have Glossophobia.

According to Healthline, four out of ten Americans suffer from Glossophobia. In a survey conducted by Gallup, the fear of public speaking was ranked as the second most common fear of Americans. It was shown that public speaking outranked death in the top fears of Americans.

Magnetic Speaking states that is more common among American females than males. Two to six percent of men suffer from the fear of public speaking, while three to eight percent of women are plagued by the same condition. Cosmopolitan reveals that even some of the most famous celebrities such as Brooke Shields and Madonna have been affected by this fear.

 

Glossophobia Definition

Glossophobia is simply the fear of public speaking. It comes from the two Greek words “glossa”, meaning “tongue” and “phobos” meaning “fear”, Glossophobia.com states that it is also known as speaking anxiety. This is considered a social phobia and a type of Social Anxiety Disorder.
 

Causes

Many factors can cause a person to develop Glossophobia. It can be due their family background or be influenced by psychological, environmental and biological factors. A person may also have an intense fear of public speaking because they may be afraid of getting rejected or being embarrassed in front of the audience. If they have had a negative experience when they were asked to speak in front of a crowd before, they may be afraid that it will happen again. Finally, it may also be because they were not able to properly prepare for the speech which makes them have Glossophobia.

Symptoms

A person suffering from Glossophobia may experience having going through a flight-or-fight response which may lead them to having a fast heartbeat, cause them to feel nauseous or want to vomit, make them feel dizzy, have muscle tension and may feel the urge to escape from the public speaking setup.

An individual’s brain may respond to the perceived threat, which is public speaking, by  producing adrenaline and steroids. As a result, this may cause their energy levels or blood sugar levels to rise. This may also speed up the heart rate and increase their blood pressure which in turn makes more blood flow to the muscles.

 

Treatment

The suggested approaches of treatment to Glossophobia are therapy and medication.

Psychotherapy

A type of psychotherapy they may try is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The therapist may assist them in identifying the underlying cause of their speaking anxiety. Undergoing this therapy may also help them change their negative thoughts about public speaking.

Medication

A Glossophobia patient may resort to medication is symptoms still persist after being subject to therapy. The doctor may recommend medicine to address their anxiety. The following are medicines they are suggested to take:

 

practicing might help to reduce anxiety brought by Glossophobia/ Photo By Elnur via Shutterstock

 

Beta-blockers

These are prescribed to address some of the physical symptoms of Glossophobia. Beta-blockers are used to cure heart problems and anxiety disorders.

Antidepressants

This kind of medicine can help a patient manage their social anxiety. This is also used as treatment for depression.

Benzodiazepines

For more severe symptoms of anxiety, the doctor may recommend that the patient take medicines such as Ativan or Xanax.
 

How to Reduce and Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

To be able to lessen and eventually, eliminate their fear of public speaking, Psycom provides the following helpful tips to the people affected by Glossophobia:

 

try to be calm to reduce fear of public speaking/ Photo By fizkes via Shutterstock

 

1. Be prepared.

Days before they have to deliver their presentation, they should be able to research about their topic and know it well, check the speech location and go over the needed speaking materials and equipment. Being able to get organized before the day of the speech will reduce the chances of a person saying something inaccurate or unrelated to their topic. If they do happen to go a little off topic, being knowledgeable about their main topic can help them get them back on track immediately.

2. Practice the speech repeatedly. 

It is not advisable to be just be able to present the speech once to an audience. People are advised to give a mock presentation to their family and friends and ask them to rate and review their performance. They may also try recording a video of their speech so that they can see it from the audience’s perspective and make more improvements.

3. Focus on the speech material instead of the listeners.

It is noted that instead of how a person does their presentation of the speech, they are paying more attention to the new information that is being given to them by the speaker. The listeners would be less likely to notice how nervous they are.

4. Calm down even when they forget parts of their speech.

If they forget what to say during the speech for awhile, they should not panic. They may feel anxious and may feel that they have been silent for too long. The pause may have actually taken just a few seconds, so they should try to take some slow deep breaths then continue. Even if the period of silence took longer than a few seconds, they should be able to relax and think about how the audience sees it as a planned pause.

In addition to addressing the anxiety that comes with their fear of public speaking by therapy and medication, they may also try participating in public speaking courses and acquire self-help materials to aid them in improving their public speaking abilities.

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