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What is Glossophobia?
Glossophobia may be defined as a very specific form of stage fright or speech anxiety which is the fear of speaking in public. Most confident people have experienced some degree of nervousness or anxiety when they have to give a speech, presentation, or perform on stage. They still manage to cope with the occasion even though they are not enjoying it. However, people who suffer from glossophobia (referred to as glossophobics) may deliberately avoid situations where they would have to speak in public.
This can happen when an employee has to make a presentation to the rest of his department and becomes completely frozen. It can happen at a social gathering where the thought of meeting new people causes you to become nervous and edgy. As a result glossophobia may hamper the sufferer’s ability to further his or her academic, social or career opportunities. If left untreated, this can lead to loneliness, poor self-esteem, depression and isolation. There are helpful strategies to manage and cope effectively with glossophobia.
Symptoms and signs
The common symptoms and signs of glossophobia include extreme anxiety before the event or the idea of speaking in front of a group of people. Physical symptoms often appear as well which results from the body’s response to a flight or fight reaction to stress.
These symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
- Feelings of nervousness or panic attack
- Dry mouth
- Tense, weak or quivering voice
- Stiff neck or upper back muscles
In severe cases, some people may even experience nausea or vomiting from the stress and anxiety.
What causes Glossophobia?
The exact cause of glossophobia is not known, although a number of factors can contribute to this disorder. Traumatic events that may have affected you as a child or during adulthood may contribute to glossophobia and cause you to avoid speaking in public.
It may also occur when you have been slowly avoiding to speak publicly over a period of time and the idea of it causes you so much anxiety that it has now resulted into glossophobia. Certain psychological conditions such as where the speaker suffers from poor self esteem, always wants complete approval, believes that everything must be perfect, or expects failure can also bring about episodes of glossophobia.
Help for Glossophobia
Various treatment options are available to treat glossophobia. Certain drugs such as beta blockers may be used to help people relax before speaking in public. Complementary therapies such as hypnosis, meditation or psychotherapy can be quite beneficial in helping you to overcome glossophobia.
Taking public speaking classes such as Toastmasters International or Association of Speakers Club will be able to alleviate your fears of speaking in front of others and improve public speaking skills. Counseling or psychotherapy may also help you to address the root of the problem and learn effective techniques to deal with this condition.
Tips to cope with the glossophobia
- There are certain measures that can be taken to cope with glossophobia and these include:
- Make sure that you are thoroughly prepared to perform at optimal level
- Practice giving a speech or presentation in front of a mirror until you know it
- Attend public speaking courses to help you overcome your fear of speaking in public
- Before going on stage, walk off your nervous energy to calm yourself or listen to music
- Stay calm by practicing deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga
- Repeat positive affirmations throughout the day – "I will succeed", I am capable of doing this" or I am worthy
- Imagine that the audience is in their underwear and that at the end of the day they are just ordinary people