The fear of public speaking can stem from many reasons. However, before we get into them, it’s important to know the common symptoms to help you understand whether or not you or a loved one has glossophobia. So, keep reading to know everything important about the fear of public speaking and the right way to overcome it!
The signs and symptoms of glossophobia are quite easy to spot, which is why many individuals are able to perform a self-diagnosis and seek help accordingly. Keep an eye out for the following psychological and physical symptoms associated with this fear:
Now that you know what glossophobia feels like, it’s time to get down to the root causes of the problem. Without doing so, you cannot hope to overcome this fear.
One of the most common reasons why people fear public speaking boils down to an underlying anxiety disorder. Anxiety and fear come from the hyperarousal of the autonomous nervous system of the brain, which governs the way our body responds to threatening stimuli. Most commonly, this hyperarousal is called the flight or fight response and is what contributes to a sense of anxiety in a person. Individuals who suffer from anxiety find their flight or fight response elevating when asked to speak publicly as they perceive the situation as a threat.
Individuals that suffer from low self-esteem tend to only see their negative qualities (or perceived shortcomings). Thus, when they are asked to speak in public, they go into overdrive predicting one failure after the other, with the audience being made of harsh judges that they just cannot seem to impress. Low self-esteem is often disproportionate to one’s actual abilities, which is why it is essential to address this issue as soon as possible. High levels of low self-esteem can prevent you from seeking valuable opportunities in life and progressing forward in your career. It can even prevent you from forming meaningful relationships in your life.
If it’s your first time speaking in public, or your first time speak about a specific topic, it is natural to feel a little anxious about doing so. However, there is a huge difference between healthy levels of nervousness and full-blown anxiety. Recognising this difference and being able to identify which side of the fence you land on can help you curb the problem before it grows into a looming fear that you cannot let go off.
Sometimes, you are required to present ideas to different people and the fact that you are not accustomed to speaking to them can contribute to a fear of speaking in public. In such cases, it is important to note that being faced with new audiences is likely a trigger for you. This way, you can use the right coping mechanisms in advance to make sure that your meeting or presentation goes off well.
Victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse often prefer staying out of the limelight. This is being garnering attention of any sorts makes them feel more vulnerable, which triggers a lot of anxiety and fear in them. Psychologically coming to terms with the abuse and learning to move forward is the only way to get rid of your glossophobia in such cases.
Often, when asked to speak to someone who’s at a higher level at one’s organisation, people tend to feel nervous. Now imagine the effect of having to speak to a group of leaders or managers all at once! It can be absolutely terrifying! In such cases, various coping mechanisms identified and cemented through hypnotherapy can help you move past the sheer terror of a meeting or presentation, so that you can perform well and get the desired results!
Many working professionals suffer from what is now called the imposter syndrome – a deep rooted belief that you’ve somehow lucked your way into your field or job role and are not worthy of your designation. This fear comes with a stronger fear of being ‘discovered’ by peers as an imposter, which is what leads to glossophobia. People suffering from imposter syndrome believe that speaking in public will reveal their shortcomings, leading to everyone knowing that they are nothing more than frauds.
If you consider yourself a perfectionist, or are someone who likes to control the outcomes of every action, then the idea of speaking in public may be incredibly daunting to you. Instead of focusing on what you need to say, you may end up focusing more on the possibility of making a mistake, thereby increasing the mistakes in the process! This ultimately makes you more anxious and the cycle continues.
Most presentations and large-scale talks are recorded these days so that organisations can make use of the content later on. While all this means is the placement of an obstrusive camera somewhere in the room, for people with glossophobia, this can be catastrophic as they fear all their mistakes being recorded for all eternity! Such people also fear others judging or laughing at these mistakes at their expense, which furthers their glossophobia and leads to performance anxiety.
Many people describe themselves as people-pleasers. On a micro-scale, there’s nothing wrong with being this way – all it means is that you want everyone around you to be happy. However, when people pleasing becomes a bit of an obsession to the point where you fear being hated or disliked, it can affect your daily life and even disrupt your ability to speak in public.
The fear of garnering negative feedback after a presentation or speech can also contribute to the fear of speaking in public. This also stems from a lack of belief in one’s abilities or low confidence. In such cases, it is crucial to understand where this low confidence is coming from so that you can address it and eliminate or manage your fears better.
Most speeches or presentations are followed by a question and answer round during which the audience seeks clarification from the speaker. People with anxiety and/or low self-esteem perceive these questions as attacks, and tend to feel even more anxious as a result. The fear of this ‘attack’ can be so strong that it translates to a fear of speaking in public altogether.
Many people believe that the fear of speaking in public is not a big deal because not everyone has to stand on a stage an address an audience. However, what they don’t realise is that this fear is equally strong in other situations in which you must address a group of people. The following are some of the ways that the fear of speaking in public affects your life:
As you climb the corporate ladder in your workplace, you must take on more responsibilities and eventually take control of teams and projects. This not only means regularly scheduling meetings with your team, but also leading the meeting. If you fear speaking in public, this can seem as hard as climbing Everest and can therefore be quite detrimental to your career. Seeking the help you need to overcome this fear is, therefore, quite essential.
Surviving in any office is all about making the right contacts. This means being a part of group discussions and speaking with people as regularly as possible to increase your workplace visibility. Something as innocuous as a water-cooler chat may feel like a daunting prospect to someone who suffers from the fear of public speaking. This is because it inevitably means that the minute you open your mouth, all eyes will be on you. As this is a huge trigger, people suffering from this fear are more likely to stay in their own designated work area during breaks, rather than seeking out others.
Even when you are not on a leadership track in your office, you are still required to make presentations from time to time to discuss the status of the project you are working on. If you fear public speaking, you might find yourself stammering, faltering, or freezing during such presentations to the point where someone else may have to take over for you. This definitely paints you in a negative light, with your bosses and managers believing that you are either not skilled enough to do your job, or not worthy enough for a future promotion.
When it comes to most anxiety-related issues such as the fear of speaking, there are no cures, only long-term treatments such as hypnotherapy and coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are essentially tools individuals rely on to get them through a tough situation. While we all have our own sets of mechanisms that we’ve developed over time, hypnotherapy helps you create healthy mechanisms that not only work, but also help you face your fears and go on with the rest of your day. You’d be alarmed to know that some of the top performers in the world suffer from a certain amount of stage fright however, their ability to minimise its effects is what helps them perform well and overcome the fear!