Present your ideas clearly

What causes a fear of public speaking? (and how to get past it)

Glossophobia is something that hardly anybody knows the meaning of but that nearly everybody suffers from. Have you heard this term before? Do you know what it means? A gold star to you if you do. In short, glossophobia is the fear of public speaking.

So, what is at the root of glossophobia - that is, what really causes a fear of public speaking? And, more importantly, how you can get past it? Any worries and anxieties you have about public speaking are likely based on a combination of three factors.

1. Human evolution

According to an article about a fear of public speaking in Psychology Today, our glossophobia is tied to our evolutionary past. Throughout most of human evolution, expressing an unpopular opinion might get you kicked out of the group. Therefore, a fear of public speaking became a common defense mechanism.

Perhaps the best way to get past this natural anxiety is through practice.

For the first few presentations, try to make the situations as stress-free as you can.

For example, if possible, try to give your presentations as part of a group. After a while of doing this, you may feel comfortable striking out on your own. Or, if you’re on your own, do short presentations to people you know well, and on topics you are very familiar with. Gradually, you will likely notice your anxiety decrease and your confidence increase.

And, yes, you may have some uncomfortable moments, but you will also learn that these are not as terrible as you imagined them to be. You may even come to enjoy them or think them funny!

2. Lack of public speaking skills

You may look at others in the public eye - such as politicians, CEOs and actors - and think that they were just born great speakers. But it’s easy to overlook the fact that they have spent years developing their public speaking skills.

Public speaking requires skills that you need to learn.

So, why not learn how to craft an effective speech or presentation, take a course on public speaking or join a local club where members practice giving speeches?

3. Self-limiting beliefs

Many of us hold beliefs that undermine our confidence and kill our motivation to develop. These include:

  • ‘I will never be a good public speaker because I’m too shy.’
  • ‘I will look silly if I make a mistake.’
  • ‘Good public speakers don’t get nervous, but I get nervous very easily.’
  • ‘The best presentations are memorized, and I’m not good at memorizing things.’

Try to recognize these beliefs that you have and then ask yourself if they are true. For example, is it true that all shy people are bad public speakers? Or that good public speakers don’t get nervous? Challenge your thinking. You may be surprised at how things you assumed to be true are really not true at all. And once you uncover this fact, they are less likely to hold you back.

Though a fear of public speaking is common and natural, you can take very practical steps to overcome it. Like with most things, learning and self-development are at the root of positive change.

Are you looking to develop your public speaking confidence? Or want to get your ideas across in a more effective way? Then check out this Funzi course:


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