How do I beat my fear of public speaking?
Updated: Aug 24
Standing up in front of a crowd of people, delivering a presentation, chairing a discussion or just sharing an idea to a class, each of these involve putting yourself in the spotlight. While some people may relish this opportunity or situation, it can strike fear in others. So for those people whose greatest fear is speaking in public, how can they overcome the anxiety that comes from glossophobia?
First, it is important to understand what a true fear of public speaking is, and how it can come about. Glossophobia, the medical term for the strong fear of public speaking, is one of the most common phobias, with about 75% of the world’s population struggling with this phobia. As a phobia, it is rooted in anxiety, particularly social anxiety disorder in this case, where the anxious feelings cause us to disproportionately worry about the situation.
Those who suffer from glossophobia tend to experience the classic fight or flight response when speaking in front of a group, even if the group only consists of a few people. They may tremble, sweat, freeze, and so on. As their brains release adrenaline and steroids, their blood sugar levels and heart rates increase. The symptoms are not necessarily limited to during a public speaking event, they can be experienced in anticipation too. While glossophobic people may know that this fear is irrational, they don’t feel in control of their feelings.
When it comes to why, the exact cause of glossophobia is still unclear. Some experts believe it is more common in people who have grown up around family members with the same anxious tendency. Some think that it stems from previous traumatic events, where we may have been the centre of attention at one point. Others suggest it develops as the result of low self-esteem and our internal narrative dictating the opinions we have of ourselves. Ultimately, regardless of the cause, it will almost certainly lead to an avoidance tactic, to stay away from any situations which may require us to speak in public. But what methods can we use to replace this strategy with a story of beating the fear of public speaking?
Many websites will offer actionable tips which may appear to be worth your time. Know your content back to front, be as organised as possible, practice your delivery in front of a mirror then in front of a good friend… These strategies might have a marginal impact in that moment, but will have no effect for someone with glossophobia, particularly in the long term. For a true impact, gaining support from a professional is the key.
Psychologists are highly likely to recommend cognitive behavioural therapy, which supports individuals through specific, targeted and personalised actions to get to the root of the underlying challenges which speaking in front of others poses. This is often employed using exposure therapy, which is simply graded situations which are designed to stretch an individual’s capacity as they work through their feelings with said psychologist. This is where oVRcome really excels.
With trained professionals on hand to offer support through cognitive behavioural therapy, and virtual reality experiences to deliver the exposure therapy elements, it creates an exceptional option to work through a fear of public speaking. Drawing on years of research into phobias, alongside 21st century technology, it is a winning approach which can deliver results to be proud of.
Do you dread public speaking? Are you looking to make a change so that it no longer affects you? The oVRcome team are here to help - why no try the free fear of public speaking test? It takes less than 10 minutes and you’ll receive a personalised report via email to give you more information to take steps to that change.
Alternatively, if you feel this article has struck a chord with you, that you identify with the sense of fear or dread described, or perhaps you may know of someone who could benefit from support, perhaps our 7 Day Challenge is worth checking out? Available for a range of phobias, you can sign up and each day engage in content which has been designed to support you through your fear of public speaking.