Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. Learn about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and ways to cope. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is the most commonly held situational fear among people. Public speaking causes feelings of anxiety in roughly 77% of the general population, and it can sometimes hinder a person's day-to-day life.
Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is the most commonly held situational fear among people. Public speaking causes feelings of anxiety in roughly 77% of the general population, and it can sometimes hinder a person's day-to-day life. This is especially true when it comes to school- or work-related situations that involve speaking in front of others.
Read on to learn more about glossophobia and healthy ways to cope with this fear.
"Glossophobia" is the official term used to define a fear of public speaking. It may sometimes also be referred to as public speaking anxiety.
Phobias are categorized into one of three categories:
Glossophobia is a social phobia that causes more intense feelings than are normal to experience when it comes to public speaking. Instead of just butterflies in their stomach, those with glossophobia can feel extreme distress in situations that involve speaking in public, interacting with new people, or talking in a group.
People with glossophobia may experience a variety of symptoms depending on the severity of their condition. They may only experience a fear surrounding performance and public speaking, but it is possible they will also have other social anxieties.
Symptoms of glossophobia typically include:
Those with glossophobia may have other symptoms of social phobia, as well. These may occur before, during, or after a social situation.
Symptoms may include:
Those with social phobia are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than the general public.
As with many phobias, glossophobia may also cause a variety of physical symptoms. Panic attacks are also possible and may lead to increased heart rate, chest pain or tightness, and trembling. Other symptoms include:
A fear of public speaking often begins in adolescence. Social phobias like glossophobia can be caused by a range of factors.
Glossophobia may be due in part to genetics. Genetics can determine how the brain regulates feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and shyness.
Some people may be born naturally shy, and find social situations difficult to navigate. Most people who have a social phobia have had a shy temperament their whole life.
A fear of public speaking can develop after learning the fear from a role model. A child with shy parents who avoid social interactions or speaking in public may be influenced to have the same fear.
A child who witnesses such avoidance may grow up to think speaking in public or socializing with others is upsetting and to be avoided.
Likewise, if a parent overprotects a child who is shy, the child won't have opportunities to become used to situations that involve new people or speaking in public. This can result in a social phobia like glossophobia later in life.
A life event or past experience that is stressful or upsetting can cause people to associate negative emotions with situations that involve public speaking or interacting with others.
If someone has been criticized or feels humiliated, they may develop a social phobia. If a person is pressured into interacting in a way they are not comfortable with, they may also develop a social phobia.
Those who are bullied are more likely to hide away from others and be afraid of opening themselves up to more criticism by speaking in public.
Since the fear of public speaking is a social phobia, it is typically diagnosed as a nongeneralized type of social anxiety disorder. Recent studies show that the fear of public speaking is a common feature of social anxiety disorder, but it may also be present without other signs of social anxiety.
For a person to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, a mental health professional will perform a psychological evaluation using criteria in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
You may also undergo a physical exam or lab tests to look for any irregularities in physical health, which will often check a person's hormone, vitamin, and blood levels.
Treating social phobias like glossophobia can be complex, and it may require a number of approaches. Psychological interventions like therapy are known to be effective in the treatment of fear of public speaking.
Treating social phobias involves talk therapies. These include:
Typically, medication is not used in the treatment of phobias. However, a physician may prescribe medication for people experiencing significant symptoms of anxiety.
These may include:
Dealing with a fear of public speaking isn't easy. Many people feel nervous if they have to deliver a speech in front of an audience, but there are ways to cope.
The American Psychological Association suggests the following tips to cope with nerves when speaking in public:
The fear of public speaking is a social phobia and may be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, learned behavior, and past experiences. It is the most commonly held fear, and people with glossophobia may experience anxiety surrounding either interaction with others, performing in public, or a combination of both. Treatment involving psychotherapy techniques is likely to have the best outcome on improving irrational fears related to public speaking.
Having a fear of public speaking can be difficult, but if you have this fear, you are not alone. If glossophobia is interfering with your daily life and causing you to avoid situations, it may be worth seeking professional help. Making an appointment with a healthcare provider, especially one who specializes in mental health, is a positive step toward addressing and overcoming your fear.