Fear of public speaking can bein many cases, incapacitating. In other words, it can affect us in our day to day, interfering with the activities of daily life and limiting us. This phenomenon can also be known as glossophobia.
For this reason, in today’s article we are going to talk about what fear of public speaking is, when it can be considered a problem, what its symptoms are, what factors modulate it and what we can do to manage it.
What is the fear of public speaking?
The phobia of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, orIt occurs when a person has an intense and unreasonable fear of speaking in front of other people. In the event that it is disabling, that is, it affects the person’s daily life, it can be considered that it is a social phobia.
Many times it is an anxiety disorder and in many cases it occurs within the disorder called social phobia or stage fright.
What are the symptoms the person suffers from?
As we have commented, glossophobia or fear of speaking in public It can appear in isolation. In other words, although it is common for it to occur in the course of social anxiety or phobia, it does not have to occur in these disorders.
Remember that social anxiety disorder or social phobia occurs when there is intense anxiety about exposing yourself to social situations in which there is the possibility of being judged by other people. These situations can be: eating, drinking, talking, meeting with others, etc.
So we can conclude that:
people with glossophobia would also be, in most cases, victims of social anxiety disorder, but that not all people with social anxiety would have glossophobia.
Perhaps you have ever heard the terms “stage fright” or “stage fright”. They are related to glossophobia, this would occur when the person is afraid of the possibility of having to expose himself to other people and be the center of attention. Sometimes it could be related to glossophobia, but not always. This is so because not all the people who are exposed to an audience speak, that is, some play instruments, others dance, act, etc.
The symptoms that would appear when speaking in public would be the same as in any other anxiety disorder: increased heart rate, sweating, tremors, choking sensation, chest pain, intestinal problems, derealization or depersonalization, fear of losing control, irrational and obsessive thoughts, etc.
Internal and external factors that modulate fear
It is important to note that there are different factors, both internal and external, that modulate fear and that contribute in one way or another to the appearance and maintenance of it. The most common factors are the following:
They are those that are associated with ourselves. That is, those factors that can be modified by ourselves.
The greater the perfectionism, the greater the probability of being afraid of speaking in public. Thinking that we have to achieve perfection or that we have to do everything impeccably can lead to this problem.
Related to the above, the greater the demand towards ourselves, the greater the probability of having glossophobia. Believing that you must be successful and that if you don’t have things will be horrible is the origin of it.
In general, the more times we have done something similar, the more likely we are to do it without fear. Even so, if we have had any previous bad experience it could also be decisive.
Degree of control over exposure.
If we can control certain factors such as lighting, the number of people, etc. we will feel more comfortable because we will be able to adapt the situation to our needs.
Low self-esteem and insecurity.
Low self-esteem and insecurity can also cause us to develop this fear. After all, if we are not sure of something we can start to fear it or avoid it.
It is about all those factors that we cannot modify and that do not depend on us. Like, for example, the following:
- Number of public.
- Characteristics of the public.
- Characteristics of the place.
Strategies to manage it
However, in order to overcome fear or prevent it from becoming a social phobia, it is advisable to follow a series of strategies to manage it. Here are some of the most important:
Lower expectations and perfectionism.
As we have commented, high expectations about the situation can lead us to be afraid of speaking in public. Therefore, it is important that you analyze the situation and that you think that you should not be successful and competent in absolutely everything we do. If not, we have to do our best without the need to reach pathological perfection.
Control the theme.
It is important that you are confident with the topic you have to present. Therefore, it is recommended that you read about it, prepare yourself and collect all the necessary information.
Even if it seems not, it is very important that you can rehearse the subject. You can expose yourself gradually, that is, first speak in front of the mirror, then do it in front of trusted people to gradually increase the audience. Also, if there is a possibility that you may be asked questions, it is important that you do a simulation of what possible questions you might be asked.
Giving yourself positive messages or instructions is also very effective. You could tell yourself things like “breathe, calm down, you can do it, everything will be fine, remember to look people in the eye, etc.”.
Before the exhibition you can also practice breathing and relaxation techniques in order to stop the activation of anxiety.
Question your thoughts.
During the process, a series of irrational thoughts will probably appear, such as: “you’re not going to be able to handle it”, “they’re going to laugh at you” or “you’re sure going to make a fool of yourself”. He tries to refute and question these thoughts so they don’t hurt you as much.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy resource to overcome fear
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) according to various investigations such as that of Baeza (2007) It has proven to be one of the most effective in the treatment of anxiety or social phobia. The techniques used in this therapy to deal with social anxiety are usually the following: exposure, cognitive restructuring, relaxation, etc.
In addition, different clinical guidelines such as that of the American Psychiatric Association also determine that It is the most effective type of psychological therapy in the treatment of this disorder.
Therefore, in the event that you think that you are being a victim of it and that you alone cannot cope with it through the techniques that we have shown, we recommend that you do online therapy with the aim of being able to benefit from a therapy totally adapted to your needs.
In summary, glossophobia or fear of public speaking can become anxiety or social phobia. In some cases it is also related to panic or stage fright. Anxiety symptoms are those of any specific phobia and are modulated by different internal and external factors. It can be overcome through the use of different strategies and is related to: low self-esteem, perfectionism, high self-expectations, etc.
Baeza, C. (2007). Effective treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder. Neuropsychology Notebooks, 1(2), 127-138.