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Your 5-Minute Read On Overcoming Your Fear Of Public Speaking

August 18, 2022

Glossophobia, more commonly known as fear of public speaking, is a very common form of anxiety. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it affects about 73 percent of the population.

If you have first-hand experience with this dread, you may have guessed already that the underlying fear is judgment or negative evaluation by others.

The prospect of having a crowd’s attention in silence feels like scrutiny and rejection leading to the trouble of talking.

But this is not just your regular fear of criticism. The fear of public speaking actually has primordial roots and evolutionary psychology has to do a lot of explaining.


Glossophobia: A fear worse than the fear of death


You may attribute your fear of public speaking to an environmental stressor, a childhood experience or a genetic predisposition. More likely, your speculation is correct. These are all contributing factors. However, evolutionary psychologists believe it also has something to do with a deeper origin.

Story time, our prehistoric ancestors were prey to large animals and harsh elements. Hence, living in a group reduces predation and increases your chance of survival. On the other hand, rejection from your tribe can lead to loss of life.

Simply put together, rejection is analogous to death during the primeval time. Unfortunately, this trauma has been passed down through generations and rippled through multiple areas of our lives.


Are you just shy or are you glossophobic?


Normative shyness is a feeling of awkwardness or discomfort in the presence of others. It is a common personality trait and by itself, not pathological. In some societies, shyness is even seen in a positive light. It is usually just short-term and doesn’t cause severe impairment in one’s work, school and social undertaking.

Meanwhile, the fear of public speaking can be more debilitating and, in fact, can turn into a more serious problem.

Glossophobia can present a variety of physical symptoms. This includes:

  • dry mouth
  • nausea
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased perspiration
  • stiffening of the upper back muscles
  • shaking hands
  • quavering voice


If you note any of this while public speaking, read on for some helpful tips.


Overcoming the fear


Fear of public speaking is a common experience shared by even the greatest speakers in history. Nonetheless,  instead of avoiding public speaking, you can learn to handle your fear and equip yourself with the right coping skills.

Put an end to your fear by following some of these steps.


1. Master your topic.


The more you understand what you are going to speak about, the more confident and less anxious you’ll be. You’ll also less likely make a mistake or get off track and if you do get lost, you’ll be able to get back and recover fast.


2. Get organized.


Carefully identify and sort out ahead everything you need for your performance. This includes any props, audio, visual aids or handouts so you can have spare time to relax instead of rushing yourself to get important materials.


3. Dress comfortably.


Dressing well conveys power, authority and confidence. If you feel good on the outside, it will instantly radiate on the inside, helping you feel more composed and poised for your speech.


4. Challenge specific worries.


Sometimes, we tend to exaggerate our fear that it gets out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation. You may overestimate the likelihood of embarrassing yourself, making a mistake or being negatively evaluated. List all the things that make you nervous and identify evidence that supports the likelihood of your feared outcome happening.


5. Go to therapy.


If you find that your fear is already holding you back and is getting in your ability to speak in public, seek professional help. Glossophobia is treatable and empirical evidence supports exposure-based treatments to be the most helpful.



Let no fear crush your performance and be a fearless public speaker. Crush the jitters and exude confidence on stage by trying out some of our tips.

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