The fear of public speaking or stage fright is also termed as Glossophobia. Many people experience some degree of stage anxiety before speaking/performing at events; however most manage to get over it no matter how unpleasant they may find it.
In case of extreme Glossophobia however, individuals simply freeze before their audience. They might be unable to speak. They might find that their mouth dries up or they start sweating, shaking or experiencing palpitations.
Needless to say that Glossophobia can lead to highly embarrassing situations. People with a fear of public speaking try to avoid these situations completely. Businesspeople might experience professional setbacks owing to their inability to make presentations. Family members or friends requested to make speeches at weddings, birthdays etc may refuse them owing to their Glossophobia. Glossophobia can also come on suddenly in experienced actors and musicians who might start to find concerts difficult. Pilots and cabin crew might refrain from making announcements.
Symptoms of the fear of public speaking
Common signs and symptoms of the fear of public speaking include anxiety or nervousness before the event that involves speaking or performing before a small/large group of people. Physical symptoms of glossophobia include:
- Panic attacks characterized by sweating or trembling
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting in the extreme cases
- Stiffness in the neck and back muscles
- Tense and weak or quivering voice
Apart from these physical symptoms, verbal and nonverbal symptoms might also manifest themselves such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Causes of Glossophobia
The exact cause of glossophobia is unknown but it is likely that certain traumatic events in one’s past as a child or even as an adult might have led to this fear of public speaking. Often the individual coping with this phobia might avoid speaking in public for so long that what beings as normal anxiety might turn into full blown Glossophobia.
Most individuals who suffer from the fear of public speaking are also low on self esteem, expect perfection in everything they do, seek constant approval, or expect failure.
Treatment of Glossophobia
There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies that can help in calming the anxiety experienced before events that involve public speaking. Aconitum napellus or Gelsemium, etc may be recommended by homeopaths based on the exact history, symptoms as well as the individual’s nature and temperament. Herbal remedies like Lemon balm, lavender and Passion Flower etc can also help soothe the nerves and calm one before a public speaking event.
In case of traditional or orthodox treatment for glossophobia, beta blockers may be prescribed for soothing anxiety, controlling shaking or trembling and also for lowering heart rate etc. There are several restrictions on taking such medicines: one must especially speak to a doctor about these medications when suffering from diabetes, depression or heart diseases etc.
Many public speaking courses, associations and clubs are dedicated to help individuals alleviate their fear of public speaking. Talk therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and counseling etc can also help individuals overcome their glossophobia.
Alternative or complementary remedies like hypnosis, positive visualization, meditation and even acupuncture etc can help one address the root of the problem and overcome the fear of speaking publicly.
This must be extremely hard to overcome. I personally think this has something to also do with social anxiety. It could be connected in some way. But I just want to know what goes on in the mind of someone who “needs” to overcome this phobia.
That was so inspiring, thank you so much Jacob.
The older you get, the less you fear!
Wish I could present my college work for the audience when I’ll be 45 years old.
I used to fear Public speaking when I was a teenager because I fear making mistakes in front of my peers. But I realized that everybody make mistakes even the most eloquent journalists. So, I developed a self-esteem believing that even when people jeer at you it cannot last up to two weeks. Believe that you know what you are talking about even more than the audience. Then, also believe that they will appreciate you at the end of your speech or presentation. You will then become a motivational speaker. It worked for me and now I am always looking for where to make a public speaking.
i’ve been scared of public speaking since kindergarten. it hasnt gone away but its getting slightly better bc i forced myself into choir and band so i could try to get rid of my fear, it worked quite a lot actually.
Its starts when i get told i have to speak in front of people and i start stressing and crying and if i manage to get into position for it i stop crying and start trembling and my voice is quiet and quivering and i’m struggling not to cry. i’m not sure if i have this phobia and if i try it in front of good friends i’m fine.
I have a big phobia of public speaking i cant do it and i always freeze up start to not breathe and i get all sweaty and no one understands. We have to do a speech in front of everyone and i cant to do it but there are no excuses of not doing it so i am doing it on why students should not have to be forced to public speak and i am ridiculously frightened. I have to do a speech this Sunday and the assignment one is next week, any ideas on how i can fix it?
I hate that people on this page even, point to it as something to or you can get over. You don’t understand if you think that, I had a bout with it earlier this evening, i was asked to speak of experience in front of a group and couldn’t even show up. I accepted when asked thinking I could get through this this time, as the time approached for me to leave my house earlier this evening, my stomach started knotting up, i got diarrhea. I got in the car in full panic mode, already told myself at that point I wasn’t going and sat in my car, mentally exhausted for 1.5 hrs. Don’t tell me to get over it, or we have a pill to reduce your anxiety, or an herbal supplement, or steps to take. It’s embarrassing to go completely blank, to not be able to put sentences together when to focus, not be able to remember your point, etc and to be questioned about it. That’s why i’m here looking for anything that defines what I go through. I see definitions and symptoms but it’s always followed by how to overcome. There isn’t any overcoming this!
Jannah Vincent says
I had to do a speech in front of about 600 people, and im COMPLETELY stagefright. and when I was doing it, people noticed my *Tense And Weak Or Quivering Voice* and said they could barely hear what I was saying, even with a mike in front of me. my bro was actually the closest person to me in the audience and could barely hear a word I was saying.
Damian samson says
Lots of people hate giving speeches but there is a way to get over it. Do it in front of people whenever you can. Practice with your friends. I don’t do that any more because when I did that my self esteem went sky high. Now I am a good public speaker. I recently won a competition of public speaking in front of kings high school in Dunedin New Zealand. I only won because I practiced lots in front of people and my class. It also helps when you know what you are going to say.
madison grace holden says
what if it is really hard to even do it in front of your friends?!
Kaleb Gerdes says
I’m glad you have overcome your fear, congrats!
Michael Kenny says
There really is only one way to overcome glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public. Believe me, I’ve tried all the other so called remedies and the only surefire route to success is to join your local Toastmasters Club. In my case this was Dublin South Toastmasters, a club that meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at Bewleys/Clayton hotel in Leopardstown. Guests are welcome to drop by and sit in, you will not be asked to speak.
Check out the ten step program that will turn you from a dithering wreck into a competent communicator and later an accomplished speaker in any situation. Friendly, affable and supportive, the members will quickly make you feel at home and guide you on your journey in a most positive way, and remember, anyone can do it, and that means you.