When you’re giving a speech in front of a large audience, your entire body tenses up. Your palms get sweaty and your heart begins to race. But, what methods can you use to control speech anxiety (glossophobia)? What should have been an easy task suddenly feels like the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
That’s because speaking in public is one of the most difficult things anyone can do—and everyone knows it. It’s also something that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Let’s take a look at why so many people feel this way about speaking and how we can manage it more effectively when we need to speak in front of other.
Fear of public speaking is commonly regarded as one of the most universal fears among human beings. In fact, surveys indicate that most people would rather be stuck in an elevator or get immunized than give a speech!
Even the thought of speaking in front of other people can create a feeling of panic and dread for many. However, this doesn’t need to be the case for you. There are plenty of ways to overcome your fear and become comfortable giving speeches when necessary.
If you find yourself feeling nervous about giving a speech at work or school, read on to discover some useful strategies for managing your anxiety.
- 1 What is speech anxiety (Glossophobia)?
- 2 What causes speech anxiety (Glossophobia)?
- 3 What are the symptoms of speech anxiety?
- 4 Before the Speech
- 5 Ways of managing public speaking anxiety
- 5.1 Breathing Exercises
- 5.2 Physical Activities
- 5.3 Develop a Script and Practice Your Speech Out Loud
- 5.4 Focus on your content and not the audience
- 5.5 Visualization
- 5.6 Take the Stage By Surprise
- 5.7 Find your happy place
- 5.8 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- 5.9 Hiring a professional coach or trainer
- 5.10 Know your audience
- 5.11 Challenge negative thinking/ specific worries
- 5.12 Don’t fear a moment of silence
- 5.13 Get organized
- 5.14 Know your material well enough
- 6 Strategies to Reduce Anxiety During the Speech
- 7 How common is speech anxiety?
- 8 What are the three types of speech anxiety?
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 FAQs
What is speech anxiety (Glossophobia)?
Speech anxiety is defined as the feeling of fear or dread about an upcoming speech delivery. The feeling is often characterized by a racing heart, dry mouth, and trembling hands. Speech anxiety can range from mild to severe and can impact people of all ages and backgrounds. Anxiety can also be triggered by someone else’s speech, such as watching a video of yourself speaking or listening to a recording of your voice.
What causes speech anxiety (Glossophobia)?
The root of this fear is usually a combination of genetic tendencies and other environmental, biological, and psychological factors. Sometimes there are specific events that trigger the feeling of anxiety, like an upcoming speech. For others, the problem may come and go depending on the situation – such as a job interview or speaking at a family gathering.
The other causes of speech anxiety include:
- Speaking in front of a large audience
- Lack of or inadequate preparation.
- The fear of failure/ judgment or evaluation.
- Speaking in front of a higher-status audience.
- Having a current hostile audience or exposure to a previous case of a hostile audience.
- Giving the speech in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Lack of opportunity to build speaking skills or not rehearsing the content well.
- Inadequate knowledge of the content.
What are the symptoms of speech anxiety?
The symptoms of speech anxiety can vary depending on the person but the common ones include shaking, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, and squeaky voice.
For some people, they may only experience a small amount of anxiety, while others have extreme symptoms that affect their ability to speak. Everyone will feel anxious at some point in their life, but if you’re feeling extreme levels of anxiousness before or during public speaking engagements, then you may want to make an appointment with a mental health professional.
Before the Speech
Practicing time and time again is the best way to prepare for a speech. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to public speaking. When you practice, you can identify your weaknesses and work on improving them.
You can also determine if you need any aids, like slides or notes, to help get through your speech. Additionally, you should always read the speech aloud in front of someone. You’ll notice some problems that will change the flow of your words or ideas if they’re not clearly communicated.
Finally, select a topic of interest to you – one that excites and motivates you. If you find what you are talking about interesting, it will be more likely for your audience to be interested as well!
Ways of managing public speaking anxiety
One way you can manage your anxiety before giving a speech is by practicing deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing slows your heart rate and helps you relax. It also provides oxygen to your brain, which can help you concentrate on what you are going to say next.
If you are feeling anxious or nervous about giving a speech, try taking a few deep breaths. This will help calm your nerves and allow you to focus on the topic at hand. You’ll be surprised at how much of an impact this simple exercise has!
One of the most effective ways to control your anxiety is to focus your attention on physical activity. Doing anything that requires movement and keeps you active will help divert your attention from the anxiety you’re feeling.
For example, dancing, doing yoga, or running are all good options. If you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, try jumping up and down for a minute or two before starting your day. Your heart rate will rise and you’ll start to feel more awake and energized.
Furthermore, if it’s just too cold outside or if you’re too tired to go for a run, try getting up and doing some push-ups or sit-ups instead. These types of activities will make you feel more accomplished while also distracting your mind from dwelling on the speech that’s coming up soon.
Develop a Script and Practice Your Speech Out Loud
One of the best ways to get over your fear of public speaking is to create a script for yourself and practice giving your speech out loud as much as possible. When you speak on the fly, you may find yourself forgetting what you want to say or feeling like you are constantly insecure about what to say next.
Developing a script beforehand will help take this level of pressure off of you and allow you to focus on delivering your message in a confident manner. Practicing your speech out loud can also be an effective technique for banishing nerves before your big day.
Speaking aloud will also help ensure that you have all the necessary information upfront and that there’s nothing new that could throw you off during the actual event. This will make it easier for you to feel prepared heading into your speech, so it won’t be such a big deal if things don’t go according to plan.
Focus on your content and not the audience
If you find yourself feeling nervous about giving a speech at work or school, remember to focus on your content and not the audience. When you think about why you’re giving the speech, then your mind will focus on what you want to convey.
If you are thinking too much about how many people are in the room or how they might react, then it will be difficult for you to feel confident when presenting.
It’s important to remember that no matter how many people are in the room, they are there because they want to hear what you have to say. They want to find out something new from you and listen to your ideas. Treating your audience with respect is an important part of speaking confidently.
One of the best ways to control your anxiety is through visualization. Take a few minutes before your speech starts to visualize yourself giving the presentation flawlessly. This technique has been shown to reduce anxiety levels by up to 73 percent in just six weeks.
Visualization might sound like a good idea, but it takes a lot of practice to master. It’s important that you practice at least once a day for 15 minutes, and do this every day for six weeks. The more you practice, the easier it will be to find success during your speech.
Another thing you can do is talk out loud to yourself as if you were speaking in front of people. This exercise enables you to get used to how it would feel if you were actually presenting live and practice being in front of an audience without being judged or scrutinized by anyone.
You can also try imagining what people around you are thinking about when they’re listening to your speech. You’ll likely think about how unimportant it is that they dislike what you have say since no one will remember what happens when you speak anyway (except for YOU).
Ultimately, this process makes it easier for many people because they know their speech isn’t being judged and no one will care what they say- so why should they?
Take the Stage By Surprise
One of the most effective methods for dealing with speech anxiety is to simply go ahead and do it. Even if you’re not entirely prepared, it’s better to just take the stage by surprise. You can even practice beforehand so that you know what to expect.
This may seem like a risky method, but I guarantee it will help you conquer your fear in the long run. If someone asks for a speech and you say yes without thinking about it, there will be no time to worry about whether or not you are going to panic or become overwhelmed.
And if you are panicking while giving a speech, people will know that you’re nervous because they can see it on your face. However, this won’t last forever – as soon as you start talking, your adrenaline will take over and everything will be fine!
Find your happy place
Find your happy place. One of the easiest ways to control anxiety is to find a location that you feel safe and happy. It can be somewhere in your home, somewhere in nature, or any other place that makes you feel relaxed and secure. Then, when giving the speech, you can imagine yourself in the happy place.
When you feel anxious about giving a speech, try to take some deep breaths and remind yourself that this feeling will pass. For those who are more introverted, it might be helpful to find a quiet space where they are not being watched by others while they speak.
Confidence is one of the most important factors when it comes to speaking in public. A confident speaker will usually have less anxiety than someone who is fearful of speaking in front of others. Pay attention to how other people give speeches for ideas on how to sound more confident when giving speeches yourself.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
One of the most effective methods you can use to control your speech anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy. With this method, you will be trained to think in a different way about what it means to give a speech and how public speaking should affect you.
Many people get anxious before they speak because they fear being judged. The idea that others may have an opinion about them or their performance can make them feel nervous or worried. However, according to CBT, the idea that others might judge you shouldn’t make you feel so self-conscious or concerned.
In reality, there are many different opinions out there and people are far too busy with their own thoughts and worries than to think about yours at all! Cognitive behavior therapists will teach you how to better manage your thoughts which will help reduce your anxiety before giving a speech. They do this by teaching you skills like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, positive self-talk, and more!
Hiring a professional coach or trainer
One of the most effective ways to learn how to control public speaking anxiety is to practice in front of a friend, colleague, or coach who will give you honest and constructive feedback on what to do next.
For example, if you’ve never given a presentation before, it may be helpful to hire a professional coach or trainer who can help with your speech structure and delivery.
A professional can also offer insights into how best to handle difficult questions that may come up during your speech. With practice, you’ll become more confident in your abilities and find yourself less worried about what others might think because you know exactly what you want them to hear.
Know your audience
It is a good idea to do research on the audience type, qualifications, and age among others. Ask questions about their lifestyles and interests. Study them as much as you can in order to make sure that your speech will be well received by them.
Challenge negative thinking/ specific worries
One of the most useful methods to control speech anxiety is to challenge your negative thinking. Negative thoughts often lead to the feeling of panic and dread that many people experience when they think about speaking in front of others.
If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts or worrying about something, such as a fear of forgetting what you’re going to say, try writing out 3 positive thoughts for every time a negative thought comes up.
This will help shift your focus and allow you to have more control over your situation. You can also make 3 x 5 cards with inspirational messages from friends on them. When you feel self-doubt creeping in, take one of these cards out and read it aloud to yourself. This will help remind you that not everyone feels this way about public speaking – just you!
Don’t fear a moment of silence
The first step is to simply give your speech. The more you speak in public, the more comfortable you’ll be speaking in public. Giving a speech is not going to hurt you and will only get easier with time. Just remember that silence can also make people uncomfortable, so don’t fear it!
The best way to prepare for a speech is to create an outline of the points you want to cover. This will help you stay on track and avoid rambling.
When writing your speech, make sure it’s conversational and informal so it will be easier for you to speak naturally. Also, try including humor when possible as this can break the ice with your audience.
Know your material well enough
One of the most common mistakes that speakers make is not knowing their material well enough. It’s critical to create a quality speech and practice it thoroughly before giving it. If you don’t know what you are going to say, how can you expect your audience to know?
Strategies to Reduce Anxiety During the Speech
- Practice makes perfect. Practicing in front of the mirror, with your pet, or in front of friends and family is a good way to calm your nerves before speaking. Practice will increase your confidence and make giving the speech easier and less nerve-racking.
- Talk slower, longer pauses. Speak more deliberately when you’re giving a speech by slowing down your speech and taking long pauses between sentences to let people process what you’re saying. This will give them time to think about what they just heard and say it back to themselves in their head before continuing on with the next sentence.
- Take a deep breath before you start talking. It’s always good to remind yourself that the worst part is over–the anticipation! When you feel nervous before starting your speech, take a deep breath in and out for about ten seconds or until you feel calmer and less tense.
- Make eye contact with someone different every few sentences or so. To keep from staring at one person too much, try making eye contact with someone new every few sentences or so throughout the duration of your speech–this will keep anxiety levels low since it’ll be harder for them to notice if you’re nervous or not!
- Tightening and then relaxing your muscles,
- Visualizing a peaceful scene
How common is speech anxiety?
Public speaking is a potent fear. Studies have shown that, at any given time, as much as 77% of the population has some level of anxiety regarding public speaking. This fear (glossophobia) is so common that it has even been termed “the most universal of all phobias.”
What are the three types of speech anxiety?
There are three types of speech anxiety: trait anxiety, context anxiety, and audience anxiety.
- Trait Anxiety is the fear of public speaking because it’s not one’s natural inclination. For example, if you’re shy by nature but have to give a speech then this would be considered trait anxiety.
- Context Anxiety is the fear of public speaking because you know that it would be judged poorly. For example, if you know your work colleagues will judge your speech harshly then you might feel this type of anxiety when having to give a presentation at work.
- Audience Anxiety is the fear of public speaking because they know they will cause a negative reaction in their listeners. If you’re afraid that people won’t like what you say and will react with anger or derision, then this would be an example of audience or situation anxiety.
The goal of any speech should be to tell a story in an engaging way. Anxiety may get in the way of this goal, so you have to find ways to relieve it. This can be done through using breathing exercises, physical activity, focusing on your content and not your audience, and visualizing yourself in the moment.
Remember to take the stage by surprise and find your happy place. Lastly, hiring a professional coach or trainer can be a great way to reduce your anxiety during your speech.
The methods below are the best to control speech anxiety. It’s important that you try these strategies in order to find out which ones work best for you and which ones don’t.
- Practice your speech beforehand: You might feel a little more confident if you know what you’re going to say ahead of time. You can practice by giving the speech to a mirror, recording it on video, or writing it out to get better prepared.
- Break your speech into parts: If you have a long presentation, it might be helpful for you to break up the speech into shorter parts and focus on one part at a time. Doing so will help alleviate some of your fear as you won’t have so much pressure on yourself from speaking for an extended period of time.
- Eliminate distractions: It’s also common for people who are afraid of public speaking to be distracted by what’s going on in the room while they’re speaking. For example, they may notice someone yawning while they’re talking or something happening behind them. To help eliminate this distraction, use things like PowerPoint presentations or other visual aids that will keep people watching your slides instead of their smartphones!
- Practice breathing exercises: Panic attacks and other physical symptoms often accompany fear of public speaking because there is often a lot of pent up tension in our bodies when we’re feeling anxious about something and this tension needs an outlet. A good way to release some of this tension is through breathing exercises where we consciously
How do I know if I’m speaking too fast?
Speakers often worry about talking too quickly and running out of time. However, the truth is that it’s very unlikely for a speaker to talk as quickly as they think they are. A good way to check this is to use a watch or timer with a second hand. When you feel your audience start to lose focus, pause for 5 seconds and keep going.
It’s unlikely you will run out of time if you do this occasionally.
What should I do when I start feeling anxious while giving my speech?
Nerves are normal! In fact, many people experience butterflies in their stomach before giving a speech–which can actually be beneficial. This type of physiological response is often referred to as a “fight-or-flight” response: when our bodies prepare for stressful situations by releasing adrenaline into our system. Feelings of anxiety are nothing more than heightened emotions, so it’s important not to fight against them but instead lean into the fear and ride the wave of anticipation that precedes most speeches.
What should I do if anxiety turns into panic?
If you find yourself experiencing intense feelings of fear and/or terror prior to a speech, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist or psychologist experienced in treating panic disorders. The best way for such an individual to help is by taking the time to learn about your specific fears and providing strategies on how best