How to Overcome Glossophobia, the Fear of Public Speaking?

Some people suffer from acrophobia, the fear of heights or aerophobia, the fear of flying. Whereas for others it’s arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. But there is one fear that perhaps beats all the aforementioned, i.e., Glossophobia. People suffering from this phobia can end up trembling, sweating, nauseated, dizzy, with a range of other issues. If you are someone scared of facing your audience, let us show you how to overcome Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.

The fear of public speaking

What is Glossophobia?

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It is also known as speech anxiety. The word is derived from the Greek word for tongue and fear. Hence, being tongue-tied or scared of facing an audience is Glossophobia. The phenomenon affects people quite frequently, some more than others. The symptoms of Glossophobia can range from physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, dry mouth and increased heart rate to non-verbal and verbal symptoms. A few verbal symptoms might include a tense voice and speech disfluency. Whereas non-verbal symptoms might include going blank or being limited to note cards.

Research has shown that some people are so scared of Glossophobia that it even tops the fear of death. Some people even resort to therapy or medication to overcome Glossophobia, whereas others try to weather the storm and hope to avoid death by PowerPoint.

How to Overcome Glossophobia?

In a previous post, we discussed a few ways for overcoming the fear of public speaking. This time will discuss a few steps that can help you overcome Glossophobia. The tips can also be helpful if you’re simply looking to polish your public speaking skills or need to get rid of a few minor irritants that hinder your public speaking ability.

1. Know Your Triggers

What is usually known as the fear of public speaking is actually the stimuli that causes one to become fearful, anxious, nervous or suffer from effects like an accelerated heartbeat or the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. While your fight and flight response can usually help you fight through a threatening situation, it can also cause you to panic. Such as in the case of public speaking. To start off with overcoming Glossophobia, you must first identify your triggers. Make a list and write down everything that bothers you. Be it eye contact with someone in the audience or the fear of failing at defending your presentation topic.

2. Practice with Friends and Family

When we say, practice with friends and family, this includes not the ones that might make fun of you or make your situation worse. You can even start with just one trustworthy individual who might help you out in your situation in enabling you to boost your confidence. Know well that you have nothing to lose and this is not a situation where you will face embarrassment or failure. Practice with one individual or a small group and try increasing your group for a speech or presentation. Once you get the hang of it, you can even include the troublesome friends and family members who might disrupt and bother you. This will help you train your mind to ignore irritants and teach you when to respond to criticism confidently.

3. Thoroughly Review Your Topic

Many presenters fail because they fail to put in enough effort to prepare their topic. You should not only be able to present your side of the argument but also know the counter-arguments. You can seek help from a friend or family member or pose questions before them to ask for counter-arguments. This will help you better prepare for criticism and might also reduce some of your stage fright.

4. Speak from the Heart

When you are passionate about something, you are able to gain respect from others. Even the ones who disagree might give you space for your dedication. Speaking from the heart also enables relying less on things you need to memorize and be more in tune with your nature. There will always be trouble mongers in the audience but you can always overcome them with your passion or possibly avoid being shaken by them if you believe in what you’re preaching.

5. Focus on Something Easy on the Eyes

Sometimes, a presenter can go blank simply because of a mere eye-contact with someone in the audience. You can avoid such a situation by focusing on something simple. It can be keeping your eyes on a friendly face or looking at foreheads or inanimate objects. So, you can stare at the banner in the back and the audience might perceive you to be looking at them. This can help you overcome stage fright and focus on the topic. As you get better at public speaking, you might be able to look at anything or anyone and keep your flow.

6. Engage Your Audience

It might help some people to engage the audience to overcome their anxiety. Asking a question or gathering the views of the audience might also give you a break from speaking and boost your confidence as you engage others. This can also backfire if people are too critical of your views. However, you can calmly reply by acknowledging difference in opinion and continue stating your side of the argument.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

The fear of failure is something you should try to avoid thinking about when going out to face an audience. You can try to practice in circumstances where the stakes are low to avoid being overwhelmed when you have a critical speech to deliver. Either way, don’t be afraid of failure, as well as disagreement and criticism from the audience. Many good presenters start unremarkably until they get better at the job.

8. It Becomes Easier

As unlikely as it might seem, the fear of public speaking often reduces as you frequently present before an audience. Over time, your ability to reach out and engage your audience will improve, as will your flow, mood and capabilities as a presenter. There might be exceptions to this but you should try to believe that you aren’t one of them.

Final Words

Glossophobia is perhaps like riding a bicycle or driving a car. You need a bit of time to learn it until you get the hang of it. You can feel afraid, anxious and even drained out due to the fear of facing an audience but viewing your struggle in hindsight might teach you that it was probably not as bad as you imagined it to be.

About Farshad

IT professional, communications specialist and Blogger!

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