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Terrified of public speaking? You are not alone!
February 1, 2014
Did you know you know that glossophobia or fear of public speaking - which comes from the Greek terms glossa (tongue) and phobos (fear or dread) - affects as many as 75% of people? In fact, a quick Google search suggests many people fear public speaking more than death. Even the comedian Jerry Seinfeld has joked that at a funeral, most of us would rather be lying in the casket than giving a eulogy!
But just why does this fear of public speaking seem to have such a stranglehold on so many of us, to the point where even the prospect of standing up to speak before a group of people can cause a range of fairly devastating physical symptoms? To be clear here, we’re talking: increased heart rate, sweat pouring down our body, dry mouth, shallow breathing, mind blanking, losing all power of speech and emotionally feeling inadequate, incapable and often totally disempowered.
It’s interesting that these sometimes crippling symptoms are nothing more or less than the fight or flight response. How can a response which was designed to protect our physical survival from the threat of the sabre tooth tiger have anything at all to do with our performance in the public arena? Surely we are not going to be attacked or eaten up in public? Or are we?
Is there something about a group of people staring at us with ‘high expectations’ about our delivery that makes us feel open, vulnerable and judged, and very much like prey ready to be consumed by a ravenous predator? Could this be the trigger that activates the adrenalin in our fight or flight response and leaves us speechless and powerless when faced with what we perceive as potential danger?
Many people report that what they experience is ‘irrational’, ‘absurd’ or even ‘stupid’- and that there appears to be no sensible reason why sharing an idea or delivering their message in public should be so threatening.
The good news is that with the right skills and techniques you can get to the core of what it is that stops you from shining in public - hold your own - and confidently get your message across!