November 29, 2022
8 min read
Does the mere thought of public speaking make you panic? Do you hope you never get called on to answer a question or — heaven forbid — present something? Would you like to overcome glossophobia and seize opportunities you’ve been missing out on?
You’re not alone. Most people struggle with glossophobia to one degree or another. While some people are simply anxious about public speaking, others experience full-blown panic attacks when they have to speak in front of a group.
If you experience public speaking anxiety, fear not. You can overcome glossophobia and stop missing out on opportunities to participate more fully in your personal and professional life.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Glossophobia is an intense fear of public speaking or, more generally, speaking in front of a group. It’s one of the most common phobias.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms of glossophobia can vary from person to person. But, they typically include fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and nausea. The degree to which these occur also varies widely. If you experience any of these glossophobia symptoms to a debilitating degree, it’s important that you get some support. A therapist or counselor can help you manage your public speaking anxiety.
When you experience glossophobia, your brain is perceiving public speaking as a threat. That can trigger your fight-or-flight response. This is a physiological reaction that can cause your heart rate to increase, your breathing to become rapid and shallow, and your muscles to tense up. These symptoms can often lead to feelings of anxiety and panic.
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a condition where individuals experience intense anxiety and fear in social situations. Glossophobia is one specific manifestation of social anxiety disorder that focuses on fear of public speaking or speaking in front of others.
Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, is a very common fear. It’s estimated that up to 75% of people experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when speaking in front of others, and around 25% of people experience significant fear and avoidance of public speaking.
While glossophobia can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, it often begins in adolescence or young adulthood and might continue throughout a person’s life if left untreated. It’s more common in people who have a history of social anxiety or other anxiety disorders, as well as those who have had negative experiences with public speaking in the past.
Fortunately, glossophobia is a treatable condition. Various techniques and therapies can help you manage your public speaking anxiety. Let’s look at 10 ways to overcome glossophobia.
Establish and maintain a positive mindset about the opportunity you have to speak. Keep in mind why you’re speaking and the good things that will result from it. In fact, you could make a list of the benefits. Here are some examples:
Yoodli, a free AI-powered speech coach, makes public speaking playful for people who suffer from anxiety. You can work to overcome glossophobia by playing fun games such as Spin a Yarn and Metaphor Mania. They’ll truly have you laughing! Sign up at yoodli.ai.
A positive mindset helps during both preparation and delivery. Turn that racing heart from nervousness into excitement! Your enthusiasm will be contagious, and that will make your speech more engaging. Keep a sense of humor during your presentation, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Before you start practicing your presentation, make sure that you understand who your audience is and what they expect from you. Knowing your listeners will help calm your nerves as well as ensure that you speak in a way that resonates with them.
Keep in mind that your audience is made up of imperfect humans, and they know that you, too, are an imperfect human.
Don’t overload your presentation with too many points and details. Not only is that overwhelming to your audience, it gives you more to worry about. The simpler the message and the fewer the points, the less you’ll have to remember.
Using appropriate visual aids during your presentation engages the audience and helps you stay on point. Incorporate slides, diagrams, photos, videos, and other visuals into your talk in ways that enhance rather than distract. Here are some tips for using visual aids when you present.
The more prepared you are, the less nervous you’ll be. Know your material and the way you plan to deliver it. Memorize it as well as you can, and use prompts that keep you moving forward through your points. Here are some tips for memorizing your speech.
Earlier, we mentioned the fun games you can play with the Yoodli AI speech coach. Yoodli has far more than games. You can upload a recording of your speech or record a presentation right in the app. You’ll receive analytics on your filler words, weak words, eye contact, and more.
Yoodli can help you overcome glossophobia by providing a comfortable environment for you to practice. You’ll get feedback without having to deliver your speech in front of real people. There’s no pressure of being judged by others.
While you’re speaking, make eye contact with listeners and engage them in conversation if appropriate. This will help build a connection between you and your audience and make it easier for them to stay engaged with what you have to say.
Often, we tend to speak faster when we’re nervous. Slow down, and speak at a conversational pace. When you vary your pace, do it deliberately to create dynamics that help communicate your point. Yoodli analyzes your pacing, so you’ll get a good sense of how you’re doing when you practice.
Whether or not you suffer from glossophobia, it’s a good idea to pause at times during your presentation. Take a sip of water. Breathe deeply. This will help you re-focus and give the audience time to process the information that you’ve given them.
Most of the time, public speaking gets less scary the more you do it. Don’t turn down invitations to present. Seek out opportunities to speak. Set a measurable goal to speak once a week or once a month, even if it’s just a toast at dinner around your own table at home. Often, the best way to overcome fear is just to face it and walk straight into it.
If your public speaking anxiety is debilitating—and “just do it” is unhelpful advice—you might seek out a good therapy option. Here are some of the most common types of therapy that can be helpful for treating glossophobia:
It’s important to note that treatment for glossophobia will depend on your specific needs and the severity of your symptoms. A mental health professional can help determine the best course of treatment for you.
You might find that glossophobia keeps you from functioning in the way you want or need to—and that nothing seems to help. If so, speak with your doctor about treating your public speaking anxiety with medication.
Overcoming glossophobia doesn’t necessarily mean that it goes away. If you don’t let it stop you, you’ve overcome it. We hope that, with the help of these treatments, you’ll find yourself accepting that next speaking invitation with an enthusiasm that you never dreamed you would have.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.