According to studies, the fear of speaking is rated second only to the fear of snakes and before the fear of dying. Can you believe this? People are more afraid of speaking in public than of dying?
The causes of fear of speaking include:
1) The fear of going “blank” – this is a very embarrassing situation for anyone, standing on a podium and suddenly you have forgotten what you came there to say! It is understandable if you wish the ground will open up and swallow you. This anxiety usually makes most people afraid to speak in public.
2) The fear of looking foolish or stupid – Some people are scared of appearing foolish or stupid in front of an audience and immediately freeze-up as soon as they hear the words “public speaking.” Their mouths completely dry up.
3) The fear of rejection – there is no individual on the face of the earth who wouldn’t feel terrible if rejected by anyone let alone a group of people. The thought of the crowd booing you off the stage is enough to make anyone scared of speaking in public.
4) The fear of making a mistake – The fear of speaking can also arise from the fear of making a mistake in front of your audience. For instance, if your English is not at all fluent and you have to address an audience where most of them speak impeccable English.....hmm, the fear of making a mistake will be so overwhelming that most people would find it very difficult to open their mouths let alone speak.
5) The fear of having a panic attack in front of the audience – There are times when some people have seen others completely suffer a meltdown in front of an audience and they keep replaying that scene in their minds over and over again, they begin to associate speaking in public with the following:
- Sweating excessively (make-up running down the face)
- Sweaty palms
- Shaking etc.
These people are so afraid that they will suffer the same symptoms and convince themselves that speaking in public is the worst thing that could possibly happen to them.
6) The fear that you may bore your audience stiff – fear of speaking also arises from the fear that you might bore the audience and make them think that you are wasting their valuable time.
7) Perceiving the audience as hostile and unforgiving – the fear of speaking can be caused by an individual’s perception of his or her audience. If an individual senses that his or her audience is hostile and unforgiving, he or she can develop the fear of speaking to that group of people.
The fear of speaking in public can be treated by simply acknowledging to yourself that you are a “Public Speaker”, devour every material you can on the subject (public speaking). Powerful public speakers didn’t start speaking in public overnight; they practiced very hard and as they say “practice makes perfect.” Put your fear aside and you will see the difference it is going to make.