The fear of public speaking is referred to as speech anxiety or glossophobia. This technical term comes from the Greek words glossa, which means tongue, and phobos, which means fear. Other related conditions include social phobia and anxiety disorders.
Glossophobia is actually one of the most common phobias today. In fact, as much as three-fourths of the population is estimated to suffer from some level of speech anxiety. Some are even more afraid of speaking in public than dying.
Are You Experiencing the Symptoms of Fear of public speaking?
A person who is experiencing glossophobia will usually try to avoid participating in activitie that focus the attention of people to each individual present. Even at the mere thought of having to speak in front of people, glossophobics may already start to feel the signs of panic.
There are a number of symptoms commonly experienced by those who have speech anxiety. These can be put into three main categories, which are the physical, verbal and non-verbal.
The physical symptoms of speech anxiety are the most obvious ones. Stemming from the fight or flight response of the autonomic nervous system or ANS, the body secretes adrenaline and triggers the symptoms. The purpose of the adrenaline secretion is to enhance the ability of one person to either fight back or take flight and run away from a dangerous situation.
The symptoms includeincreased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils and even acute hearing. Glossophobics may increase their intake of oxygen and breathe faster even to the point of hyperventilating. It is also common for glossophobics to perspire a lot before and during the speech, or even when merely thinking about giving a speech. The mouth may also dry up, and the muscles of the neck and upper back may stiffen.
The verbal signs of speech anxiety also stems from the fight or flight response. The quicker a person can finish the speech, then the sooner he or she can get out of the seemingly dangerous situation. This results into speed talking.
Other symptoms include a tense voice, a quivering voice, and vocalized pauses such as “um” and “ah”. More speech disorders that are induced by stress and are only present when speaking in public are reported.
In order to speak up or perform in front of a crowd, many people who suffer from speech anxiety create an imaginary wall between them and the audience. The non-verbal symptoms include difficulty in facing the audience properly. For example, some may have a hard time standing straight, standing still, and making eye contact with other people.
Flipping the Symptoms of public speaking
Fortunately, there are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of speech anxiety. Fear of public speaking does not have to hold back anyone. From training courses to self-help materials, a person suffering from glossophobia can try to overcome this fear.