Fear of Public Speaking

The timer goes off. With chomped up papers in your hand, you sigh and collapse on your bed. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get it right. The presentation is tomorrow and all you can think about are the countless squinty eyes that will be staring at you, judging you, waiting for you to make a mistake. This seems like an awfully familiar scenario for many of us.

Standing in front of a crowd, communicating your ideas clearly, and presenting them openly in a public forum is a crucial component of success across various realms of life. Whether it’s reading an essay or a short announcement, the time you are standing on stage and addressing the crowd can seem like an eternity. We all want to be heard and part of that requires us to communicate our ideas to others and move them into action. But sometimes the only obstacle that stands between us and our audience is fear.

Public speaking is often viewed by the mass as being their biggest fear. Glossophobia appears when we are about to perform or while we are performing an oral presentation or speech in front of others. The scale of this fear doesn’t really matter because even a moderate form can have mortifying impacts. Imagine being told to make a one-minute announcement in front of an assembly. You prepare extensively for it, get up on stage and accidentally trip and fall. While this may not seem extreme to others, it can be the deciding factor for someone to never get up on stage again. The confidence to get up there again will disappear because of our fear of the embarrassing incident happening again or being judged by the audience. 

So why does the idea of public speaking sound so detrimental to many of us? Well, each individual has their own reasons. However, many of us fall into one if not three of these reasons: firstly our thoughts and views play a significant role in glossophobia. The fear oftentimes occurs when we overestimate the stakes of communicating our ideas in front of others and perceive the event as an inherent threat to our credibility; for instance, negative views of ourselves: “I just don’t do well with crowds”, “I’m not a good public speaker” or “I’m boring” can increase anxiety and expand our fear of public speaking. Secondly, sometimes it might not be us, as individuals per se, instead, it’s the situations that we find ourselves in that create or increase our anxiety. For instance, if we are sharing new ideas in class, or presenting in front of someone who is older or belongs to a different social status than us we feel intimidated. Lastly, some people may be good public speakers but just the atmosphere of being with a foreign audience can make people overestimate the situation.

We all know a couple of people in our lives, whether it be in class or places we work in, who seem to be gifted in public speaking. That one boy or girl who just gets up on stage with confidence and clearly addresses the audience without showing any signs of nervousness or anxiety. Well, certainly, those people didn’t get to that stage by just wishing they were good public speakers. Individuals who work on their skills, instead of depending on natural talent are the speakers who stand out. There are various methods to enhance this skill and increase competence in public speaking, which leads to increased confidence, an effective antidote for fear. On a more dramatic note, FEAR has two meanings- “Forget Everything And Run” or “Face Everything And Rise”. The choice is yours 🙂

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