Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety, also known as glossophobia (taken from Greek glossa; tongue, and phobos; fear or dread), is the fear of public speaking.

Not uncommon, public speaking anxiety (stage fright) is placed even before death as the greatest fear for one out of three people in the United States. In addition, three out of every four people suffer from public speaking anxiety. Public speaking anxiety is the fear or anxiety related to real or anticipated communication from others. In other words, public speaking anxiety is a direct function of the perception of the situation and affects the speaker in two ways: physiologically and emotionally.

Let's look at how our perception of this perceived threat affects our speech dynamics:

Physiologically

Anxiety is described as the anticipation of a situation that is perceived as threatening. When faced with this type of threat, the body reacts in the flight or flight response. Consequently, adrenaline and/or epinephrine are released into the bloodstream, resulting in an accelerated heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and irregular breathing patterns. These responses can then lead to perspiration, uncontrollable shaking, shivers, flushing of the face, dry mouth and the desire to fidget with objects. The irregularity in breathing can itself lead to short-term memory loss, the weakening of the voice (resulting in stammering or stuttering), and in the extreme case disorientation or hyperventilation.

Emotionally

The emotional impact of perceived threat or fear is what causes the physiological symptoms to occur in the first place. This perceived fear is the fear of looking foolish to others and the fear of public humiliation. Humiliation sabotages the ego and compromises self confidence. So great is this fear that many people will avoid jobs/job interviews that require public speaking, avoid promotions, or for students, avoid classes that require public speaking, or change majors based on the perceived peril of public speaking anxiety (stage fright). Our culture equates effective and fluid articulation to intelligence. A good leader is generally defined as one who possesses these traits, thereby raising the stakes yet higher for those with public speaking anxiety issues.

It is important to keep in mind that public speaking anxiety (fear of public speaking) is hardly uncommon. Some studies have shown that public speaking anxiety strikes some people harder than others. People who are anxious by nature; either ‘high trait' or generalized anxiety sufferers, are not surprisingly those who possess the most public speaking anxiety. These people actually tend to become more anxious as the presentation gets underway and remain nervous even when the presentation is over. People with ‘low trait' anxiety, on the other hand, tend to relax once they begin to speak, often wishing they would have had more time.

Fear of public speaking isn't limited to public speaking or delivering presentations. Rather, any time in any given social situation, wherein people are exchanging verbal remarks that need to sound persuasive and effective, there appears to be an increase in anxiety symptoms, preventing effective communication.

Here's the good news: Public speaking anxiety (stage fright) is manageable and can be overcome. Some anxiety is actually good for a speech; rendering the speaker passionate and intense in regard to subject matter. There are a variety of tools for curbing public speaking anxiety: an effective herbal supplement application in conjunction with natural anxiety reduction techniques can greatly modify anxious/nervous behaviors and allow you to become an articulate, effective and persuasive public speaker.

Determine your level of public speaking anxiety by taking our speech anxiety test.

This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

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