How To Overcome The Fear of Public Speaking – An Introduction

In my career and social life I speak publicly on a regular basis. I used to have a huge fear of public speaking, it was stressful as I lived with it for a long time. You can imagine what effect it had on my career, marriage, social life, etc.

I eventually realized I have no option but to get help. I learned that with certain techniques and a lot of determination and will power, I won the battle of overcoming my fear of speaking in public.

I quickly realized I had to apply my new found knowledge and that the key was proper and thorough preparation and to know my subject for every speaking engagement. It takes determination and realization, like everything in life nothing comes easy without dedication and hard work.

This prompted me to write a series of articles of how I overcame my fear of public speaking. I hope this might help someone on his/her way, to also overcoming his/her fear of public speaking.

The first thing to learn is that this fear of public speaking, also called, glossophobia or speech anxiety which is the fear of public speaking. The word glossophobia comes from the Greek glossa, meaning tongue, and phobos, fear or dread, is nothing to be ashamed of.

A very important aspect to remember is that this fear is being experienced by millions of people worldwide. Every individual with a fear of public speaking have the symptoms in varied degrees of intensity and each person has their own personal fight to overcome their fear of public speaking.

The other most important fact is to realize, we refer to the above statement, that it is not a shame to experience anxiety. I can also let you in on a secret, that some of the most famous and experienced actors and speakers admit that after years in the lime light they still experience anxiety and nervousness.

Another important thing about this fear is that most people have only this one fear or phobia. A very sad fact however, is that there are numerous people who suffer from not only fear of public speaking, but also from combination of social anxieties and/or phobias. The later condition is obvious much more serious and frightening.

It is important to understand fear of public speaking and/or a combination of fears social anxieties and phobias is much, much more than just a feeling of nervousness. For some people the fear of public speaking and maybe a combination of social anxieties and phobias is so serious that they will actually go to such extremes as to change jobs, and some students will change their major just to avoid having to speak in public.

Long before the actual speech, in some cases even months before, the anxiety can completely overtake their life as they experience continuous symptoms of wanting to run for their life, without any obvious threat.

It is not all bad news, as your and other social fears and other phobias can be treated with the following techniques by trained therapists:

· systematic desensitization

· Cognitive-behavioral therapy

In follow up articles we will also discuss a series of self help techniques as this is such a wide and serious subject that it cannot be dealt with in one short article.

I must stress the following:

· We have many strengths other than the fear of public speaking

· Once again please realize it is nothing to be ashamed of

· Why not set yourself a goal to become good speaker

In time, we will together cover this subject in depth to overcomeour fear. As I plan to submit mores articles to cover this subject.

And above all there is help available!

The Layman’s History of Public Speaking

When did man first talk out loud to a group? Adam and Eve may not count as more than one on one speaking unless you include the snake. The skill does date back to nearly the beginning of time though. Motivational public speaking was apparent as the early war leaders urged their troops to battle. While the barbarians didn’t spend a lot of time trying to improve their communication skills, they also didn’t suffer public speaking panic attacks, but that’s the only attack they didn’t suffer from.

The art of public speaking was certainly not lost on the Egyptians and Greeks. They loved to pontificate in front of thousands of listeners who had no choice but to laugh at all of their public speaking jokes. In America, Abraham Lincoln received his public speaking training while chopping down trees. Yet he never was worse the wear for it, and everyone loved his down home approach to effective public speaking. Although no tapes exist for us to critique his delivery. So I think we all agree that public speaking has been around for a long, long time. So when did we get so obsessed about it? That’s a much better question, and much harder to answer.

The first books on public speaking skills date back to the mid 1800’s. If self help books are any indication of popularity, then we could pick that date. However, there weren’t a lot of books back then, and they were very expensive, so that might not be the best answer. Prior to the mid 1800’s, other than politicians, who would be publicly speaking anyway? You didn’t need many presentation skills to work in a factory, or farm a field. So when did people really need and use communication skills, and have a real interest in public speaking? The answer is the period between the 1900’s and today. It was during this period that our nation began to promote the use of sales and presentations, and this was the key factor to improving communication skills. Nothing makes you more interested in improving your communication skills than cold, hard cash. With careers and jobs at stake for the first time, public speaking became an important skill after 1900.

If you read a lot of public speaking books, as I do, you will notice that there is a definite tie between the theme of these books and the rise of our nation. As we become more of a business power, we also become more of a public speaking power. Almost all of the public speaking self help books today originate in the U.S. Probably no nation in the world cares more about public speaking than our country.

So be proud that you are afraid of public speaking. The growth and power of the U.S. has caused your speaking anxiety, and we have only been working on how to cure this anxiety for about a century or so. If you lived in Spain, you would not have this problem. You could get better paella though.