Fear of public speaking is also known as “Glossophobia” or speech anxiety. Some people will never speak in public or to a very group of people even if their very lives depended on it – yup, it is that bad.
The fear of public speaking is can be caused by a number of reasons some of which include:
„X The fear of appearing foolish or stupid
„X The fear that you will go blank in front of your audience
„X The fear of being rejected
„X The fear that people might find you very boring and believe that you are just wasting their time
„X You feel that your audience might be hostile and unforgiving
„X The fear that people might find your talk offensive
„X The fear of making a mistake in front of all those people
„X you are afraid that you may end up having a panic attack in front of the audience
The symptoms speech anxiety includes:
- Feelings of intense anxiety prior to speaking at an event or the thought of speaking (verbally) to any group no matter how small the group is.
- Avoiding any event which focuses a group’s attention on individuals in attendance i.e. group meetings, church fellowship meetings etc.
- Feelings of nausea, panic and physical distress in circumstances where you have to speak in public.
The root cause of fear of public speaking is different from person to person, most people fall into one or more of the categories below:
1) A Single Traumatic Event
This when an individual undergoes a stressful or frightening experience which immediately causes a fear of public speaking. For instance a child gets bitten by a snake when he went camping, he immediately develops a phobia for campsites and snakes - a single traumatic event is a one time experience at which there is a very intense fear that the body’s nervous system learns and associates fear with e.g. snake bite etc. in order to help the person steer clear from such situations in the future.
2) Associated Traumatic Events
Unlike the single traumatic event, the individual is not the one who directly experiences the fear, but he or she associates with someone who has experienced the event firsthand either in a real situation or i.e. movies and dreams. For example if we watch an actor in a movie experience a traumatic event we immediate associate fear with that experience.
3) A Gradual Build
This occurs when a very mild case of fear of public speaking increases over a long period of time and becomes a serious case. What actually has happened is that the person accumulated fearful associations to speaking in public, so that the person’s mind and nervous systems concur with this emotion and fear seems to be the appropriate emotion to feel when he or she stands in front of an audience.
The fear of speaking in public is not what everyone is naturally born with, as we grow older we unwittingly learn fear and it is up to us to either face our fears or live a life full of nothing but fear.