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.