What Causes the Fear of Public Speaking? A Closer Look

Public Speaking

Experts estimate that around 77% of the population has some type of anxiety over public speaking. The fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is a type of social phobia, and it’s very common.

If you or someone you know has a fear of public speaking, you’re probably wondering what causes it and if there is any way to alleviate those fears.

Read on to learn more about the fear of speaking in public and what you can do about it.

What Is Glossophobia?

The fear of public speaking, such as performing an oral presentation or making a speech, might be a common phobia, but some people experience a more debilitating form of it.

Glossophobia can prevent you from talking about your work, sharing ideas with others, and excelling at your job. As a result, it can affect how you grow.

Common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilating
  • Muscle tension

You might also feel a strong urge to escape the situation. How strongly someone might feel these symptoms varies from person to person.

What Causes the Fear of Public Speaking?

Fight or flight responses once served as a survival mechanism, allowing people to escape dangerous and life-threatening situations. However, the body can also overreact to stressful situations, triggering that response when faced with a big presentation or a traffic jam. These aren’t life-threatening situations, but the body still releases the same flood of stress hormones.

When presented with something dangerous or stressful, the body signals the amygdala, the part of the brain in charge of emotional processing. When the amygdala senses danger, it sends a warning signal to the hypothalamus.

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The hypothalamus communicates with the rest of the body and ensures the person has enough energy to either fight or flee. This gives the body a burst of energy and also brings on more physiological changes. Heart rate goes up, blood pressure goes up, and the lungs can take in more oxygen, which triggers alertness.

If the brain continues to sense something dangerous, this leads to the release of cortisol.

There are many long-term effects that chronic stress can have on a body. For instance, it can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and more.

Unfortunately, the perceived threat of an upcoming public speech can result in prolonged high cortisol levels. Problems include putting you at higher risk of health conditions like heart disease, weight gain, and more.

Conquering Your Phobia

So how can you learn to deal with stress healthily? For one, you could practice breathing techniques designed to lower blood pressure and calm the body down. Meditation and yoga are also helpful for lowering stress levels.

You might need further guidance on conquering your fear of public speaking. Taking public speaking classes and coaching can help you overcome glossophobia and take back your life.

Take the Next Step

Now that you understand more about the fear of public speaking, you can start to recognize the signs and work on calming yourself down. If you want to learn healthy ways to cope with stress, take a class or practice meditation techniques.

For more tips on healthy living, check out some of the other articles we have.

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